As online grocery booms in Britain, will new habits die hard?

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s multi-billion pound supermarket industry is placing its bets on whether big-spending older shoppers will stick with buying their groceries online when months of lockdown end.

Having more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic to represent 16% of Britain’s roughly 200 billion pound ($281 billion) food retail market, the country has one of the world’s highest take-ups of online grocery.

Ocado boss Tim Steiner says it’s here to stay and will carry on growing quickly.

Not so fast, say bosses of some established rivals.

“A lot of people are talking about the new normal, I’m absolutely convinced that we are not in this new normal right now, we are in the temporary normal, we are in an extraordinary time,” Christian Härtnagel, CEO of Lidl GB, told Reuters.

He believes that as the crisis recedes, so will online grocery penetration, not back to pre-COVID-19 levels

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Pandemic propels older shoppers online

NEW YORK (AP) — In November, Paula Mont did something new: The 86-year-old, who hasn’t left her New Jersey senior living community in nearly a year, went shopping — online.

Mont used an iPad, equipped with a stylus to help her shaky hands, to buy a toy grand piano for her great-granddaughter. She picked it out from more than a dozen versions of the instrument on Amazon.

“It is like a wow feeling. I found it!” Mont said.

The internet has become a crucial link to the outside world during the pandemic, one that millions of people still don’t have access to. Among older adults, the lack of internet has even impeded their ability to get vaccinated.


But the pandemic has also motivated many who have been isolated at home or unable to leave their senior communities to learn something they may have resisted until now: how to buy groceries

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Hero Is a Virtual Shopping Platform That ‘Humanizes’ Online Shopping

Founded in 2015 by Adam Levene, the Hero platform allows shoppers to go “inside the store” online to “interact with real experts at their favorite brands through video shopping, messaging and real-time chat,” the company said.

The aim is to create a more human connection between online merchants and brands, and their customers. Here, Levene discusses how the platform works and how humanizing the online shopping experience is relevant — especially since the outbreak of COVID-19.

WWD: What was the impetus behind founding Hero? And how does the virtual shopping platform work?

Adam Levene: Shoppers don’t have the same confidence to buy online as they do when browsing in-store — we launched Hero in early 2017 to solve this, believing that human interaction is what’s missing from e-commerce.

Grapple, my last business, was the largest app-commerce company in Europe, launching digital platforms for Adidas, P&G and Fiat, among others.

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Ordering flowers online? Use a shopping portal to earn more rewards



a close up of a glass of wine


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Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the latest information.

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