The latest announcement from Ocado (the online delivery firm for Waitrose) that it will price match Tesco on branded goods, is welcome news. I’m yet to check out the details, but at first glance it seems this will mean online shopping via Waitrose could actually undercut the in-store price (see the Cheap Supermarkets article for more).
What amuses me about this is that the trend for online shopping is hailed as a great convenience revolution of the technological age. Yet, as anyone old enough to remember the sit-com “Open all hours” will tell you, it’s nothing of the sort. Whilst the mechanics of ordering may have changed, the idea of home delivered groceries isn’t a new one.
Looking back with assumptive spectacles, it seems the supermarkets helped kill off the local grocer and its delivery services. Now these ‘cathedrals’ of consumerism are so dominant the market place has become theirs, and they’ve dressed up the old home delivery service as a modern development.
So much so, the common complaint “they never choose the best fruit and veg”, rings back to the days when grocers stores weren’t self service; you asked and they packed the goods for you.
My how times don’t change.
PS. Supermarkets are always conceptually difficult for me as a Money Saving Expert. On the one hand I strongly support the price competition they’ve brought as it undoubtably benefits consumers. On the other the ensuing oligopoly (a monopoly by a few companies rather than by one) and the oligopsomy (where a few companies are the dominant buyers) of the food chain puts a lot of power in the hands of a few companies who could use it to push market abuses which in the long run may be detrimental to consumers.