European supermarkets set sights on online groceries

Nowadays it is commonplace to buy books, music, clothes or electronics online. Buying groceries online isn’t. But that’s about to change in Europe as several supermarkets are starting to embrace ‘online’ as a sales channel. In particular, France is trying to capitalise on the trend. About 20 percent of the population is already using drive-through collection for grocies ordered online.

That’s what we’ve read over at It says retailers in Europe are going back to bricks and mortar in the hope of turning their online food businesses profitable. A lot of pick-up points and drive-throughs are now being built so customers can pick up their online ordered groceries. And supermarkets do have an advantage on pure online retailers, because of their store network and their warehouses and logistics. Plus, if a customer comes to collect his online order he will sometimes browse in-store and hopefully buy something there.

Collecting goods in-store getting popular
Supermarkets are aware of this advantage and the fact that the online grocery market still has a lot of potential. So they are now trying to capatalise this. Also because Collecting goods in-store is getting more and more popular in Europe, as 39 percent of the online shoppers in Britain and 33 percent in France did this in the last twelve months. Especially young affluent consumers like to click and collect.

Getting the online groceries offline can be accomplished in many different ways. There are drive-throughs that are built next to existing stores or supermarkets, ther are refrigerated lockers at petrol stations nearby a highway and there are completely new built warehouse that are totally dedicated to the so-called ‘dark stores’.

French retailer Leclerc has 352 drive-throughs
For example Tesco and Carrefour, two of the biggest retailers in Europe, are now building hundreds of collection points at their stores, as well as building a handful of online-only warehouse. Leclerc, a French hupermarket chain, has more than 350 so-called “Drive’s” and saw its first-half sales in that segment jump 68 percent to 720 million euros. By comparison, overall French sales grew with 4.7 percent to 15.9 billion. Leclerc retailer thinks its Drive’s poach a quarter of its sales from its own stores, but the rest comes from rivals’ stores! Since 2010 Carrefour (also French) is building 283 drive-throughs across the country that now has more than 2278 drive-throughs from several retailers.

Click and collect in Britain and Germany
In Britain Tesco is leading the way, as two-thirds of its non-food online orders are collected at 1,500 collection points. Food is mostly home delivered, but Tesco is planning some 300 grocery pick-up points by mid-2014. Tesco’s competitor Asda will offer consumers a pick-up point in 200 outlets by the end of this year.

Click and collect is also popular in that other big European ecommerce-country, Germany, but that’s mainly for electrical goods. There’s a small chance German hypermarket chains Lidl and Aldi , already operation on very low margins, are embracing ecommerce for grocery in the short term. But hey, when everybody’s gonna do it, we think they won’t stay behind for long…