Butchers missing online opportunity, argues Eblex

Research suggests that online shopping is the way forward for butchers, with turnover from online retail expected to rise 175% in five years.

A study into the independent retail sector, commissioned by Eblex, showed that currently relatively few butchers sell online – total butcher’s shop sales are estimated to be worth £2.24 billion annually, but just 0.2% of this is accounted for by online sales. Only 8% of butchers currently offer online shopping, with those shops averaging three orders and an average sales value of £61 a week. However, Eblex said that large growth is expected in this area.

Matthew Southam, Eblex multiple retailer account manager, explained: “This survey provides revealing insight into the butcher’s shop sector and, in particular, the online marketing opportunity. When compared to other food businesses the proportion of turnover accounted for by online sales is quite low for butchers. While that’s to be expected in a sector which prides itself on personal service and where customers want to see and learn about the product they are buying, there is untapped potential for progressive butchers.

“The potential is huge: online retailing is an area that continues to grow as consumers change the way they purchase goods and butchers who offer an online shopping facility stand to benefit. We expect annual online sales to increase by 175% to more than £11m in five years as consumer demand increases and greater numbers of butchers embrace the e-commerce space and offer their customers an alternative, more convenient means of buying their meat.”

The research also suggested a lack of online presence generally within the sector: 67% of surveyed butchers didn’t have a company website. Furthermore, around half said they had no intention of developing a website, giving reasons such as “it would be too difficult”, “no time to deal with a website” and “don’t have a need for one”.

Southam added: “There is perhaps a perception that setting up and maintaining a website needs to be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. That doesn’t always have to be the case. At Eblex, we are increasingly developing online tools and resources which are designed to help butchers to build their business and make the most of marketing opportunities.

“We recently launched an online image library (www.eblextrade.co.uk), providing retailers with access to a wide variety of beef- and lamb-related images, which they can use when developing and updating their websites. Given the anticipated increase in online sales over the next few years, we are now exploring the possibility of offering website templates to butchers who are members of the Eblex Quality Standard Mark Scheme.”  

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