Independent retailers will have to work even harder to hang on to market share as the online sales market sees a further leap forward with the launch of Amazon’s new grocery delivery service in the next few months.

Plans for Amazon Fresh in the UK are now thought to be at an advanced stage, with the service expected to begin operating in London in September.

IGD said the launch was “likely to add pressure to an already highly competitive market”.

Online sales are on a rapid growth curve and the channel is expected to have almost doubled in value by 2020 to £17.2bn, according to IGD.

Independent retailer Chris Grimes of Blockley Village Shop in Gloucestershire said the increased competition required him to maintain an unwavering focus on his strengths.

“Competition from online deliveries is a growing challenge. It means we have to stay at the top of our game at all times so we can meet local top-up shopping needs. We have to be extra fresh, extra caring and extra convenient, as well as maintaining the energy on all our community work,” he said.

Adam Vincent, company director of independent retailer Dike & Son in Stalbridge, Dorset, added an online service in response to growing demand for home deliveries.

He said the rise of online shopping was an an opportunity to be exploited.

“More people are shopping online - especially in rural areas like ours where bus routes are being cut and petrol prices make running cars a challenge. Our own service is doing very well and fortunately it is picking up new customers, rather than converting existing store customers.

“We have our own distinct strengths that set us apart from the major operators such as a ‘special request’ box which allows customers to specify things such as ‘green bananas’, or ‘long use-by date’.

“Our drivers can also take goods to customer’s fridges if they need us to. We can do online, but we can also do personal, which the big boys just can’t.”

Amazon Fresh: the service

The Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service is expected to launch in the UK this autumn.

The service will offer deliveries of a selection of fresh, frozen and prepared foods to customers, and Amazon is believed to be in advanced talks with leading UK food suppliers.

It is also expected to team up with local businesses, such as delis and bakeries, to widen the range of local produce available, and to deliver other Amazon orders.

Amazon is expected to begin operating out of its warehouse in East London, where Amazon Prime Now one-hour delivery services are also located.


Advertising clout

“I expect many existing Amazon Prime customers will trial Amazon Fresh, but I’d be surprised if they carried on using it as I don’t think it would be the most convenient way of shopping. ”

Peter Lamb, Lamb’s Larder Bells Yew Green, East Sussex

“We offer home delivery via, but it is hard to remind shoppers that you do this. Amazon will spend so much advertising, which is a worry.”

Calum Duncan, Kincraig Stores, Inverness-Shire