A new online platform which seeks to cut out grocery stores and take on Amazon, by allowing manufacturers to sell directly to shoppers at significantly lower prices, is hoping to launch in the UK late next year.
A number of leading manufacturers, including Mars, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser, have already signed non-binding agreements in support of the new INS Ecosystem platform, which would enable them to sell directly to shoppers for prices up to 50% less than they would pay in retail stores.
However, INS said the platform would also be available to small manufacturers and even local suppliers.
The platform, which uses INS tokens as a trading medium, will seek to “decentralise the grocery shopping experience,” INS co-founder Peter Fedchenkov said.
“The industry in its current shape is inefficient and controlled by major retailers who determine how food is priced, enjoy an advantage that exceeds the cost difference and set their conditions on suppliers,” he said.
“Current retail systems design is based on reducing stock-outs and keeping food on the shelf. This leads to ineffective delivery schedules and results in food being wasted—up to a third of what is sold in supermarkets.”
The system is due to launch in 10 cities including London, Paris and New York in late 2018 and the company is currently seeking out fulfilment centres for it to lease and operate.
If successful,the development would force bricks and mortar stores to “re-think their entire business models,” said Heather Barson, director of retail and hospitality at Fujitsu UK & Ireland.
“If this new shopping service can truly slash grocery bills, cutting out supermarkets completely, retailers might have to rethink their entire business model, and how they fit within the supply chain altogether.
“Of course this should not be seen as an apocalyptic prediction, but rather as a challenge to be overcome. Indeed price is an important battleground, but consumers nowadays are looking beyond that: they are looking for convenience, personalisation, and ease to use, and in some instances they’re even willing to pay extra for these,” she added.