After a slow start, online grocery sales showing greater promise

Illustrative photo:  European Comission

While Czechs are increasingly enjoying the advantages of shopping over the internet, online shopping for groceries has been slower to take off. Last year Czechs spent 152 billion crowns on food products of which only 3 billion was purchased over the internet. However there are now signs that the business is revving up and more firms are poised to enter the market.

Illustrative photo:  European Comission
Last year Czechs spent 28 billion crowns on goods bought over the internet, of that three billion was spent on groceries, with the Tesco supermarket chain dominating the online grocery market. With one of the densest networks of supermarkets on the Continent, most Czechs are still doing their own shopping for food, but gradually more people have started availing themselves of the service and more firms are poised to enter the business.

The first to offer Czechs the chance to shop online for their groceries was the supermarket chain Tesco which, due to its network of stores, was in a good position to secure the logistics. Deliveries first started in the vicinity of its Prague stores and later expanded throughout the city. Tesco now has 140, 000 registered online customers. According to Incoma Gfk ten percent of Czech internet users now shop for food online and in the coming years online grocery sales are expected to grow at the same rate as overall internet sales.

Last September the e-shop jumped onto the bandwagon –promising to deliver orders within 90 minutes - and is aiming for a ten billion crown turnover within the next five years. A new groceries online shop Rockaway is due to enter the market this year and the supermarket chains Billa and Kaufland are also considering launching online sales in the coming months.

Zdeněk Skála, photo: ČT
The arrival of newcomers on the market will increase competition, possibly reduce prices and boost sales. Zděnek Skála from Incoma Gfk says that with reliable and fast deliveries and reasonable prices there is no reason why Czechs should not increasingly avail themselves of the service. People shopping online currently spend on average 500 crowns per order and some providers are making special offers to encourage people to spend more – such as free delivery for orders over 900 crowns. Smaller internet shops selling groceries usually specialize in select goods in order to attract clients – such as organic food or imported products.