possible by the internet would drive down retail prices. ‘Money comesfrom knowing people won’t comparison shop,’ said Hamel. ‘People makeenormous amounts of money out of friction’ (
, 11September 1998). He foresaw the existing supermarkets ending as darkhulks around our cities, and he predicted that the firms that took over would not be those currently dominating the market, as had happenedbefore. He was wrong on all counts – at least so far.We now live in an internet age, when the majority of households haveaccess to the web, and online shopping is familiar and well establishedin most advanced countries; in the UK, 63 per cent of households hadbroadband access in 2009.
Why should new ways of shopping beneeded?
We know that new technology – or rather the entrepreneurs involved inand surrounding it – looks for problems to solve. In the end, it is themarket that decides, when consumers are convinced that the newproduct offers them real benefits, in a form they like and at a price theyare ready to pay. What forces suggest that there is a need for new waysof food shopping?We know that some social groups already have serious problems withfood shopping, especially those in some deprived areas, the old, thosewithout cars, and those living in the wrong place: it is a problem of access. Most of us, from experience and anecdote, would agree thatthere are other problems: time, traffic, parking, queuing, wobbly wheelson shopping trolleys, screaming children (other people’s or our own) andso on. The retailers are tackling many of these, but there are residualissues around the fact that much supermarket shopping is repetitive andunrewarding. As people’s lives become more crowded, alternatives thatwill save time or effort may be attractive.
What do we mean by ‘new ways ofshopping’?
Discussion of home shopping often focuses on the internet to theexclusion of other modes. In fact, there are many ways in which thetraditional shopping model – customers go to shops to buy what theywant – could be adapted. Some of these are long-standing, such as mail