Continued online retail growth drives investment

With online food & grocery retail totalling $6.9bn for supermarkets, investment from established and new retailers is driving competition.

With the easing of lockdown measures across the nation, online retail saw it’s first signs of slowing since the start of the pandemic. Driven by a return to eating out of the home and confidence returning for an increased number of shopping trips, online shopping saw some easing in the December quarter.

Despite this, online retail continued to make a majority contribution to retail sales growth. For both Coles (+46% on Dec 20) and Woolworths (+51% on Dec 20), e-commerce generated 3-4 times the growth represented by their bricks and mortar store offerings. For the Dec-21 quarter, online sales now make up 9.3% of total food and grocery sales, up 2.9pp on Dec-20.

To support what is now a $6.9bn market for major supermarkets, both retailers have continued to invest in this emerging category. Coles, in an exclusive partnership with Ocado, is expected to open customer fulfilment centers in both Melbourne and Sydney in early 2024. Each of these facilities are expected to service sales between $500m and $750m when operational. Woolworths has also committed building their own customer fulfilment centre in Auburn, Western Sydney. This is in addition to an investment into micro-fulfilment centers in Victoria and Queensland.

On the back of this growth, a number of new entrants are now competing for for inner city online food and grocery markets with the backing of venture capital. Milkrun, headed by Koala co-CEO Dany Milham raised $75m in early-stage funding, headed by Tiger Global Management to service 35 inner Sydney suburbs to deliver to customers in 10 minutes or less. This is in addition to several other recent entrants, including SEND and VOLY, all competing for inner city e-commerce markets with quick-service guarantees. This is likely to see increased diversity to supply chains, as these retailers develop their procurement channels.

Following strong growth and increasing competition for food and grocery e-commerce, suppliers will need to be more informed as to the landscape of this changing retail channel. For more detail on online and other retail markets visit our fresh food market services page and get in contact.

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