Supermarkets’ Strong Online Performance Increases Pressure On Suppliers To Up Their eCommerce Game

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Supermarkets’ Strong Online Performance Increases Pressure On Suppliers To Up Their eCommerce Game

The strong online performance of the retail multiples over the Christmas period has reinforced the need for suppliers to up their eCommerce game or risk missing out on the channel’s further growth potential in 2018.

That’s the warning from category management and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne after Sainsbury’s reported an 8.2% growth in online sales and Tesco said its online grocery business enjoyed a record Christmas period, with over four million customer orders over the six weeks contributing to a sales growth of 5.0%.

Tesco said it executed 770,000 online grocery deliveries in the key Christmas week.

Moreover, Nielsen research reported that 18% of UK households shopped online for groceries in December, with online reaching a high of 6.4% share of all grocery sales in the final quarter of 2017.

Basic Requirements

However, as Nick Kirby, Bridgethorne’s Shopper, eCommerce and Analytics Director, explains, a large number of FMCG suppliers are still failing to address even basic online requirements that would enable shoppers to find their products.


“We find that, on average, only 60-80% of a supplier’s listed range in a retailer is visible online when shoppers actively search a brand or category on a retailer website. This is usually due to suppliers not checking or knowing what corrective action needs to be taken on their ‘Digital Shelf’. Suppliers need to make sure that checking their online presence becomes commonplace.”

Lack Of Awareness

“Part of the failure,” Kirby continues, “is that suppliers don’t actually know they have a problem, because they are not replicating online the actions they take in-store, as a matter of course. And because they’re not looking at it, they don’t realise there’s a problem and therefore don’t invest in putting things right.”

Kirby suggests that one starting point should be for suppliers to address their ‘Digital Shelf’, the digital version of the in-store shelf and its key components: search, imagery, content and ratings & reviews.

“If someone is searching for your product online it means they are likely looking to purchase your brand or purchase in your category – they are actively seeking to put something in their basket. If, as a supplier, the full range of products you have listed with a retailer is not appearing, you’re seriously narrowing your opportunity to get into the shopper’s basket,” explains Kirby.


“Put it another way, if a supplier went into a store and found a listed product not available on-shelf, they would take immediate action with store staff or their supply chain contacts to correct the situation.

“Investment in your Digital Shelf now will help your sales, category and marketing teams deliver against the needs and behaviours of your shoppers, deliver an immediate commercial return benefit and increase your share of online sales.”

Bridgethorne can support suppliers in driving growth in eCommerce by conducting a Digital Shelf audit to identify gaps in performance and provide clear recommendations that need to be implemented, from pre-commerce review, including Google, to how suppliers are performing on sites.

© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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