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Online retail and take-away brands Ocado, Deliveroo and Just Eat stole the show in 2020 as the UK’s fastest-growing brands, according to a report by Kantar and WPP.
“Already gathering pace pre-Covid-19, Ocado’s online capabilities and perceptions of strong differentiation from other grocery retailers made it take the coveted title of this year’s fastest-growing UK brand, increasing +63% in brand value to $3.3bn (£2.7bn) and reaching no.18 in the Top 75 ranking,” the report reveals.
Online home delivery companies rocketed up as the second and third fastest-growing brands, with Deliveroo rising by 40% while Just Eat increased by 19%.
There is no denying that online services had a breakthrough amid the Covid-19 pandemic – further research by Kantar reveals that e-commerce’s share of FMCG grew the equivalent of two years in one in 2020. For independent retailers, the message is clear: there is much to be gained online.
A recent study by ThoughtWorks revealed the extent to which consumers’ food shopping habits will change in the coming years: in its report 2030 Britain, 36% of respondents said that by 2030 they would order their food online, while 34% said they would order from local food producers that offer home delivery or click and collect. 29% said they would order from an online store that sells food among other products.
“As a direct result of the pandemic, e-commerce has been hurled five years ahead of its time,” says Ciaran Bollard, CEO of e-commerce platform Kooomo. “In fact, having an online presence is no longer just ‘nice to have’ for many retailers, but an absolute necessity for the longevity and survival of any business amidst the ongoing disruption.”
For the food and drink industry in particular, growing demand for online services has been clear. Historically, Ciaran says the grocery industry has been slow to migrate online – but optimising digital services is now critical if they want to stay competitive beyond Covid-19.
“The bottom line here is that online food shopping is here to stay, with 22% of consumers stating they will continue to prioritise e-grocery services in the post-pandemic world, compared to 16% beforehand,” he explains.
In recent months, a raft of digital marketplaces have sprung up to help indie retailers and foodservice operators sell their products online. Tom Bunn, who worked as a chef for over 20 years and now sources ingredients for wholesalers, started up Sauce-It in order to help chefs, restaurateurs and suppliers provide consumers with restaurant-quality ingredients at home while dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and Brexit.
By allowing farm shops and restaurants to set up online food halls free of charge, the initiative helps to support the whole fine food ecosystem. “With restaurants closed around the country, it’s not only the owners and staff who are suffering but the suppliers too,” Tom explains. “From a consumer point of view, it’s restaurant-quality ingredients all in one place with direct delivery or click and collect locally. From the food hall’s point of view it’s a low risk, no stock method of making sales and supporting fishermen, farmers and producers through both Covid and Brexit.”
Collaborative initiatives like these can provide crucial in-roads for businesses that aren’t able to set up their own online systems. For retailers that have their own websites up and running, Kooomo’s Ciaran offers his tips for boosting business online.
By putting these tips to good use in their online channels, independents can ensure their business is ready for 2021.
To learn more, download our Ultimate Guide to Online Retail here.