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The Swiss online retailer LeShop.ch, which is part of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives, is already making
3 percent of its sales via an iPhone app that was only made available in January 2010. They are expecting this
to become a major breakthrough and hope that in three years’ time, 10 percent of all LeShop orders will be made via mobile phone.

A customer survey has shown that mobile shopping supplements the weekly "big shop", it does not replace it altogether. The app makes the entire supermarket, with a range of over 12,000 products, available on your phone. On average, customers using the LeShop app buy 30 items per visit, which roughly corresponds to the size of orders placed via the website. 90 percent of orders include fresh foods.

Together, Coop and Migros have a market share of over 70 percent in Switzerland. As yet, the top spot in terms of online grocery shopping goes to England. In Germany the issue is obviously under consideration, but it does not seem that any of the online market leaders are going to launch this service any time soon. At the moment, ordering your groceries online only makes sense for time-poor workers, people who do not live near a supermarket or the physically disabled.

The main reasons that online grocery shopping is not a huge trend are the higher product prices and the complicated payment system. In some instances, for example, five different payment methods are offered, and none of them are particularly appealing: payments made via the PayPal online payment system are subject to a charge of 1.9 percent of the invoice amount, plus 35 cents, whilst the payment on delivery option costs an extra €4.50. If payments are made in advance, the money does not reach the recipient for several days and with direct debits, the first two shopping baskets are restricted to €150. The payment on receipt of invoice option is only available to regular customers. The quickest way is to pay for your goods via credit card, but this comes with an additional charge of 3.5 percent of the invoice amount.

There are other, more tangible, disadvantages too. For example, you have to be able to rely on the quality and freshness of the products. The whole shopping “experience” is lost, as is the direct contact with other people. But on the other hand, online shopping does save on petrol. Whether or not that compensates for the delivery charges and higher product prices, however, is doubtful.

Source: Britta Klein, www.aid.de