As online grocery sales grow the market becomes more important to bricks & mortar retailers. With Ocado fore-casted for rapid online growth it has emerged that Salisbury’s may be growing faster. Tim Steiner of Ocado however defends the claims citing in the The Times, “The only person who claims to be growing faster is Sainsbury’s but they have not put out audited numbers. Until they do, I reserve my right to believe or not believe what they say.”  He continues to remark, “It’s not new growth to them. It’s the same customer shopping in a different way. It’s cannibalising the bricks-and-mortar business. I’m not sure why they are bragging at all.”

Tim Steiner’s last statement raises the real discussion for me, for online sales to grow surely in-store sales migration will play a significant role. As obvious as it sounds, Shoppers have always purchased food, the places and times they purchase are the changes retailers face. My view is that growth for one retailer against another comes from the standard competitive set and luring customers in by addressing their needs. If Sainsbury’s online sales grow from their own customer base then I’d consider this customer retention in a growing competitive market?

I wonder if the reality here is that  there is a lesson for us to learn about availability and choice. Online grocery shopping is convenient and addresses the needs of many but we also use retail stores and if they are both available from a brand we know and trust, its a fair argument that shoppers will choose a multi-point purchase brand over a single point of purchase.

Personally I believe each online store has its own offering that suits the market, as online grocery grows there will be a mirroring of digital tactics to existing in-store point of purchase tactics sames world different channel!