'We're in the game now': Metcash flags bigger e-commerce focus

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'We're in the game now': Metcash flags bigger e-commerce focus
IGA Online Store. Source: IGA

Independents finally embrace online.

A latecomer to online shopping, Metcash - the grocery wholesaler behind IGA supermarkets - is planning to ramp up its e-commerce presence.

Metcash CEO Jeff Adams revealed the business is trialling a new version of its IGA online shop with a handful of independent retailers after hastily launching a minimum viable product in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis. 

“We're in the game now when we weren't before and the retailers are definitely a lot more interested in getting into it,” Adams said during an analyst call on Monday following the release of the company’s half-year results.

“The one thing about coming into it late is it allows you to do a bit of digital leapfrogging. We've been able to build our website with some of the latest thinking.” 

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Metcash hadn’t planned to launch an online shopping service due to a lack of interest from its independent retailers. 

“We didn't [have an e-commerce presence] before because it wasn't widely wanted by the network," Adams said.

"That all changed in March.

“We spun up this IGA online shop very quickly and it was quite clunky ... but it worked and that got the retailers interested.” 

Metcash also launched an online retail offering for its liquor business.

A new trial of an e-commerce website under the Cellarbrations banner is up and running in Victoria and the launch of its online marketplace ‘Shop my Local’ was brought forward from a planned launch in December to March.  

Metcash is also upgrading its point of sale system across its liquor store network to enable e-commerce integration, loyalty programs and data digitalisation. 

Adams flagged further e-commerce plans will be announced at its investor day in March 2021. 

In Metcash’s hardware businesses, which powers Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware, which already has an established digital presence, online sales grew 100 percent during the half.  

The business launched a ‘click and deliver’ option in Victoria and Tasmania, in addition to its click-and-collect service, and is planning a nationwide rollout of the service in the second half. 

Metcash also launched a new trade website and said it is accelerating technology rollout to add value for builders. 

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