Many people switch to shopping for their groceries online but then promptly leave because they find it a chore, or because their circumstances change, according to a team from Kingston University’s Faculty of Business and Law.
‘Even though the UK online market is regarded as the most advanced in the world, online groceries are still only a niche market,’ says Dr Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley from the Kingston Business School team.
Online grocery purchases only account for around 3.2 per cent of total grocery sales in the UK, although overall internet sales account for nearly 10 per cent of all retail sales, figures published in Marketing Week in November 2010 show.
The team at Kingston University found that some of the most common complaints were late deliveries, poor picking and packing of goods, and perishables being close to their sell by dates.
‘Many respondents felt online grocery providers could not be trusted to be reliable because products were regularly omitted from their delivery and substitute items were often considered unsuitable,’ explains Dall’Olmo Riley.
The team says that online supermarkets should work on improving the quality of their service and suggests tying in customers with a monthly subscription in place of delivery charges, or special offers available to online customers only.
The results of the research were reinforced by a postal survey of more than 1,100 online shoppers.
Dall’Olmo Riley comments, ‘One finding that came over clearly was that internet and supermarket shopping are not mutually exclusive – online shopping is complementary rather than seen as a substitute.
‘Reverting back to the traditional mode of shopping is easy because shoppers never completely stop shopping in traditional stores.’