Marks & Spencer has conceded that it could no longer ignore one of the fastest growing segments of the retail industry as it announces plans to trial online grocery shopping.
Anticipating a shift in customers to online, the retailer said it the retailer said it would trial the service this autumn, according to The Guardian.
The news comes just a week after M&S said it would shut down six UK stores and open 36 new ones over the next six months, 34 of which will be dedicated to its fast-growing food retail business.
At the moment, customers can buy party food from M&S‘s website which can then be collected in-store.
Customers order wine and gift foods such as chocolate, sweets and hampers to be delivered.
READ MORE: M&S unveils major overhaul of store estate
However, unlike the main high street grocers and Ocado, M&S had not yet made a move towards online grocery shopping.
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said the group was continuing “to review food online carefully”.
“It has not cost us anything over the last five years by not being online with food. Our customers haven‘t moved yet, but they will and we need to ensure that we are ready with the right response,” he said.
“There are unanswered questions over what this means for M&S and we have a team looking at this now with a view to undertaking a soft trial in the autumn.”
Last November, Steve Rowe announced the company would shut 30 UK stores and convert a further 45 shops into Simply Food-only stores to accommodate the booming demand in its food retail sector and to refocus the business, which has struggled against a long-term decline in clothing sales.