However, supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co, which numbers Diageo, Carlsberg and Tesco among its clients, has predicted we are now entering a new era that will see consumers dumping their supermarket trolleys in favour of online ordering as their preferred method of shopping.
Crimson claimed this would herald big changes for the food retail sector, allowing others, outside of the big four, to stake a claim on the market. It warned that those without an effective online ordering infrastructure could be left on the shelf.
Rapidly growing online firms
But it could also open up opportunities for more food and drink suppliers to emulate the success of rapidly growing online firms such as Nature Delivered-owned snack provider Graze.com, which last September reported a 31% increase in sales to £53M.
Recent research from the Nottingham-based Centre for Retail Research predicted that 2015 would see online retail sales reach £52.25bn in the UK, a 16.2% increase on 2014. On top of this, grocery think tank IGD reckons the online market will become the fastest growing channel for grocery goods over the next five years.
Whether consumers receive their online orders via the post; ‘click and collect’, or more established truck deliveries from supermarkets, online shopping has undoubtedly become mainstream.
And if online giants such as Google and Amazon, which operates a limited online grocery service in the UK, copy their US plans, expect the growth in online grocery here to be explosive.