Morrisons to launch general merchandise e-commerce website during Q4 2012, will outline plans for food website toward end of fiscal year; company is only major U.K. supermarket chain without food website

LOS ANGELES , March 9, 2012 () – On March 9, Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. announced in its full-year 2011 results that it would launch Morrisons.com, a general merchandize e-commerce website, sometime during the fourth quarter of 2012 and would outline its plans for a food website towards the end of 2012/2013, Internet Retailing reported March 9.

Morrisons said that it believes general merchandise sales are “migrating online, away from the high street and from ‘big box’ supermarkets.” The chain envisioned that its online sales would be complimentary to its supermarket sales.

In 2011, Morrisons purchased online nursery retailer Kiddicare. The chain is now planning to launch 10 flagship Kiddiecare stores in the U.K. The Kiddiecare operating platform will be used in the upcoming launch of Morrison’s first general merchandise e-commerce site.

Morrisons purchased a minority stake in online food and grocery retailer Fresh Direct LLC, which operates in the American states of New York and New Jersey. Using its relationship with Fresh Direct, Morrisons is building its understanding of the online food industry, knowledge that the chain will apply towards launching its e-commerce food site.

Although Morrisons does not yet have an e-commerce food site, in its full-year 2011 results, Morrisons noted that there was a clear opportunity in the grocery e-commerce market, which is growing at a rate of 19% a year and is currently worth £6 billion. The entire online market in the U.K., in contrast, is worth nearly £70 billion and is growing at an annual rate of 16%.

Morrison’s approach runs counter to that of four other large U.K. grocers—Asda Stores Ltd., J. Sainsbury Plc. and Tesco Plc.—who focused their first e-commerce forays on grocery services.

“Better technology and busy lifestyles are changing the way customers shop,” Morrisons said, “Different customers in different locations want different products. They shop using different channels, going online, via kiosks and on their smart phones. They also visit different formats, doing their weekly shop in larger stores, topping up in convenience stores and seeking out specific products or expertise in speciality stores.

“To serve more customers, more of the time, we need to be multiformat and multichannel, tailoring our offer to suit the needs of different customers,” the retailer added.

The primary source of this article is Internet Retailing, London, England, on March 9, 2012.

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