Waitrose and Ocado are the best supermarkets for consumers looking to shop for vegan food online, a study from eCommerce analytics platform, E Fundamentals, has found.
E Fundamentals conducted research into the online stores of the top UK supermarkets to reveal which sites have the widest offering of plant-based food products and are optimised to deliver the most relevant results to consumers.
The top supermarkets reviewed in the analysis include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Iceland, Asda and online-only grocery services Ocado and Amazon Prime.
In terms of product ranges across retailers, vegan options account for 4% of online retail listings, with vegan milk the highest at 12%. Ocado leads as the retailer with the widest variety of vegan and plant-based ranges on sale, with Sainsbury’s and Tesco also delivering a higher than average proportion of vegan ranges.
However, E Fundamentals found that most online sites need to be further optimised to effectively deliver the most relevant results when searching for vegan food products. 35% of results for the search term ‘vegan mince’ returned meat-based options. For vegan shoppers, Waitrose (81%), closely followed by Ocado (80%), returned the highest number of relevant vegan listings on average and is therefore positioned to deliver a better experience for consumers in this target market. Amazon’s Prime Now ranked at the bottom with an average of 9% accurate searches overall.
E Fundamentals also analysed the use of key terms for vegan ranges and found that there were significant language inconsistencies for substitutes across major online retailers which can cause confusion with shoppers who are not familiar with the key terms in the category. This includes products being labelled as ‘meat alternative’ as opposed to ‘vegan’ or ‘milk and cream alternative’ instead of being clear that the product is ‘lactose free’. These inconsistencies largely suggest that the vegan category is still emerging yet would benefit from a universal labelling method to ensure vegan options are more navigable across all online channels.
John Maltman, CEO at E Fundamentals, said: “With around 3.5 million people in the UK now identifying as vegan, we know that the plant-based category is skyrocketing in demand and popularity. The team at E Fundamentals looked into this trend to see how well online supermarkets are equipped to cater for this growth in the food market. Our insights reveal that although product ranges are increasing often, they are too hard to find with on-site search functionality not returning the most relevant results. For example, 35% of searches for ‘vegan mince’ delivered meat-based products in the results. With the right tools and approach, there is huge potential here for brands to collaborate with retailers and increase the visibility of plant-based products on supermarket websites, driving more sales for the category and meeting the needs of health conscious customers.”
The research scope includes products considered to be ‘substitutes’ for mainstream categories and examined vegan options within the dairy and meat alternative segments – milk, cheese, yogurts, ready meals, sausages and mince (long life / fresh & frozen) in the key mainstream online grocery retailers (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado, Iceland and Amazon Prime).
A qualitative analysis of the retailers’ websites took place in September 2018, where we looked at taxonomy structure, store with in a store and filters used across the major online retailers, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s Waitrose, Morrisons, Ocado, Iceland & Amazon Prime in order to understand how retailers were presenting the range.
E Fundamentals has used its ‘Easy to Buy’ methodology to understand Share of Search page 1 results across different category keywords, ‘vegan milk, vegan cheese, vegan yogurts, vegan ready meals, vegan sausages, vegan mince.’