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Money How a small supermarket became a tech giant by focusing everything on online orders

19:05  12 july  2020
19:05  12 july  2020 Source:   businessinsider.de

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Ein Ocado-Lieferant liefert Lebensmittel aus. © Provided by Business Insider Germany An Ocado supplier delivers groceries. Nick Potts / PA Images via Getty Images

The corona crisis has forced even online shopping skeptics and advocates of the dying corner shops around the corner to make one or two purchases on the Internet. Caught in their own home or in long lines in front of the supermarket, more and more people are doing their grocery shopping online. "There are pretty strong signs that things will stay that way," Luke Jensen, Ocado chief, told Business Insider. In the UK, Ocado is a widespread online supermarket, while the name shouldn't say much to most of the rest of the world.

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But supermarkets and grocers are starting to sit up and take notice. In response to growing consumer backlash against the huge amounts of plastic waste generated by plastic packaging, some of the largest UK supermarkets have signed up to a pact promising to transform packaging and cut plastic wastage.

The Ocado boss now wants to change that and has invested billions in it.

A British success story

The company's work is divided into two parts. Firstly, there is Ocado Retail, which sells groceries and other supermarket products to consumers online. The second aspect is Ocado Solutions, which provides technology for online operations of large global supermarkets such as Kroger in the United States, Sobeys in Canada and Waitrose in the United Kingdom.

The company, founded in 2002, does not expect a profit until 2024. Ocado has high operating costs, sky-high stock prices, and generally behaves more like a tech giant than an online retailer.

The share price hit a record £ 22.36 on June 1st, and the company proved to be the best performing stock of the FTSE 100 (UK stock index) in the second quarter of 2020, rising 66 Percent.

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The company, which acts as a packer and delivery service for the luxury supermarket Waitrose, today does business in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Japan.

While the corona crisis is pushing industries worldwide to the brink of livelihood and plunging nations into deep recessions, the food sector, and Ocado in particular, has seen an upswing.

The future of food is online

The pandemic has caused companies around the world to rethink how their customers' habits will change. Nowhere was this as clear as in the food trade.

According to an survey by Brick Meets Click / Mercatus Grocery Shopping, online food sales in the U.S. rose to $ 7 billion in May 2020. In April, it was $ 5.3 billion, and in August 2019, it was only $ 1.2 billion. A 2018 Nielsen study also predicted that 70 percent of U.S. consumers would shop online by 2024.

Before the pandemic, online grocery shopping was only 4 percent of the US market, but that could change. "The US has seen a huge boom," Jensen told Business Insider. "We expect a lot of it to stay."

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Back in the UK - where 7% of grocery shopping was online before the pandemic - Ocado said in May that "just an amazing amount of orders" meant rejecting new customers.

The increased demand for online food will not last forever. The shops reopen and the restrictions on freedom of movement are ended. However, what is likely to remain - and what Ocado is counting on - is the newly acquired knowledge of buyers that online grocery shopping is possible and even preferable.

Is Ocado's success overrated?

"Ocado really went through the roof during the quarantine," Fawad Razaqzada, a market analyst, told Business Insider. Daniel Coatsworth, editor of the financial news magazine "Shares", told Business Insider: "Any food company with an inferior or no service program will seriously consider how it can improve their offerings, and this is where Ocado's strengths lie," he said. "

In addition to earnings, the company's stock price has skyrocketed. This makes some wonder whether Ocado might not be overvalued." The stock price is what it is, but we won't worry and make one on Elon Musk, "said Jensen, referring to the Tesla boss's worried tweets that his company was overvalued - which caused major economic damage to the electric car maker.

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On June 11th, Xado announced "£ 1 billion from investors to expand its services." The opportunities for Ocado are huge, "said Jensen." It will be possible give it that goes beyond what we do. " grocery or tech company?

Ocados Goldesel is not the grocery, but the technology the company sells to supermarkets. Because the company holds hundreds of patents for the machines and software that drive its bearings, from robots for product selection to scanners that employees can wear on their heads.

"Our technological know-how and our unprecedented intellectual property are at the center," says Ocado on his website.

Nowhere has the boom in online grocery shopping been as great as in the United States. Americans weren't particularly convinced of online grocery shopping before the pandemic. The line of business only made up 4 percent of the overall market.

But the US supermarket chain Kroger seems to have a head start in the now opening market. Because: Kroger has been cooperating with Ocado since 2018. Together they are planning 20 distribution centers in the USA. The first groundbreaking has already taken place for three of them, and six more have been confirmed. "We see plenty of evidence that what we can develop with Kroger can open up a pretty big door in terms of consumer demand," Jensen told Business Insider.

This article has been translated and edited from English. You read the original

here .

Coronavirus © Nick Potts / PA Images via Getty Images Coronavirus

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