Online Food Delivery Service offered by Marks & Spencer

An online grocery store service was launched by Marks & Spencer. The new service will allow shoppers to have their meals delivered to their front door within an hour.

In April, it was revealed that Marks and Spencer was working on an online food service. The store started trials in London and Woodley, near Reading on Friday.

The first trial offers home delivery within one- and two-hour slots within a three-mile radius and is based at the Camden store in north London.  A limited array of ready meals which includes pizzas and Thai green curry can be delivered within an hour. However, delivery time is two hours if shoppers want to add groceries to their baskets.

A collection-only service with a two-hour turnaround for orders is offered by the Reading store. Both trials are offered only to members of Marks and Spencer’s Sparks loyalty scheme. The minimum order to avail of the service is £10.

While citizens of Britain may have fallen out of love with the Marks and Spencer’s clothing range in recent years, they have been crowding its food aisles to buy ingredients for an evening meal instead of doing a big weekly shop.

For some time, Marks and Spencer has been selling an assortment of alcohol and party food on its website. However, this is the first time that its wider grocery range, including staples such as milk and bread, have been available online. The 4,100 lines are available for sale.

“We have started two small food online trials with selected Sparks members as we explore what works for our customers,” said an M&S spokesperson.

A retail analyst at Fung Global Retail and Technology, John Mercer, announced that the retailer had adopted a model like Just Eat’s instead of the traditional route taken by the major supermarkets, which demands successful big basket sizes.

“I think it is sensible that M&S has held off until now because the major grocery retailers have found the economics of home delivery to be very costly,” said Mercer.

Presently, online selling of food has not made sense for Marks and Spencer as its customers do not usually spend enough during each visit to make the service viable.

The trial, however, is tapping into a food home delivery rush as Britons frequently use app-based services such as Hungry House, Just Eat, and Deliveroo to have meals delivered.

Steve Rowe, the M&S boss, concluded that it could no longer disregard the fastest developing section of the United Kingdom’s £180bn grocery market as new delivery services, including AmazonFresh, which lets shoppers order groceries at lunchtime and receive the delivery in time for dinner, revolutionise the way Britain purchases food.

Marks and Spencers, a high-street store is not like other food retailers as it stocks only around 7,000 products, compared with the 40,000 of Tesco. The company also concentrates on own-brand goods with only a limited selection of big-name brands. It is unclear how the retailer would overcome these difficulties customers are offered full grocery outlet by the company.

“The economics of food online are not straightforward and it is not something that we are going to rush into until we have substantial customer insight and a better understanding of what is right for M&S and right for our customers,” Rowe said earlier this year.