Morrisons to enable online shoppers to import favourites from rivals

Morrisons, which is finally launching its online grocery service in January, will enable customers to easily import their usual list of purchases from its rivals, such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

The supermarket recently blamed its lack of online presence for a fall in revenues. It had resisted offering internet shopping services despite its competitors doing so for years, only doing a U-turn in March 2013. It will be delivering groceries with the support of online supermarket Ocado.

In its Q3 interim management statement for the 13 weeks to 3 November, Morrisons said that the technology platform and integration “are nearing completion”.

The supermarket hopes to differentiate itself by focusing on its fresh food offering.

“We believe this is going to be the freshest offer on the internet,” said Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips in an online presentation.

He added: “Many of our customers will be able to experience our distinctive online food service early in the new year and we expect to be able to serve 50 percent of UK homes by the end of the year.”

According to Simon Thompson, Morrisons’ MD of online food, the supermarket will inspect its fresh produce every day and use a rosette rating on the website to indicate how fresh food is, and how in season it is.

Customers will also be able to see the shelf life of a product at the point of ordering.

Furthermore, Morrisons is offering a ‘doorstop check’. “When we get to the customer’s door, they will be able to confirm the freshness of the product before they accept them,” said Thompson. Sainsbury's is one supermarket that already allows customers to send back unwanted goods at the point of delivery, for a refund.

Morrisons’ website will also feature a ‘virtual butcher’ and a ‘virtual fishmonger’ that allows customers to choose their cuts and size of meat in the same way they would in-store.

The supermarket will be delivering online customers groceries from a dedicated fulfilment centre in the Midlands, rather than from its stores. It said this will help ensure that a high availability of products is maintained to match the online demand, as the online pickers will not be competing with in-store shoppers.

Meanwhile, deliveries will be made in one-hour slots, and customers will receive a text message to alert them to the delivery driver’s imminent arrival.

Morrisons will begin online food deliveries in Warwickshire from its Dordon online fulfilment centre, extending to Yorkshire “shortly thereafter”, using a delivery spoke in Leeds.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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