UK Online and Offline Grocery Models

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Nick Sleep Internet Scale Laws

As we've been researching online grocery, this comment by Nick Sleep in 2007 on internet retailing comes to mind:

It seems to us that the basic building block of internet retailing, its skeletal structure, is far more robust, scalable and cheaper than the high street equivalent. In other words its power law is very high, and implies that businesses with the simplicity of operation as say,, have a shot at being far bigger, quicker and more profitable than their high street equivalents. - Nick Sleep, Nomad Investment Letters

Centralised fulfilment is a core advantage for pure-play internet retailers. Suppliers ship direct to centralised warehouses and then the retailer ships directly to customers rather than to retail stores. This eliminates the most expensive part of the supply chain.

Stores are also a complex operation that determine the quality of the customer experience. The staff’s behaviour, aesthetic design of the store, and available assortment creates a different experience for each customer. These variable factors are hard to manage consistently at scale.

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