Two years after its launch, the 'virtual' Spanish supermarket capraboacasa.com, is going from strength to strength.
The company, which is part of the Caprabo food retail group, reported a 79 per cent increase in sales in 2002 to €20.5 million, making the online arm of the supermarket group one of the most profitable in Spain. The capraboacasa.com business now accounts for 1 per cent of Caprabo's total turnover.
The service is used by more than 47,000 customers, said the company, and carries more than 8,000 product lines including fresh meat, fish and fruit, packaged foods and non-food items.
The capraboacasa.com service covers 75 per cent of the autonomous communities of Madrid, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Aragon and La Rioja, and next month will become available to customers in Navarra, where Caprabo opened its first store in November.
The success of Caprabo's home shopping service is in marked contrast to those operated by some of Spain's other leading retailers. Auchan, for example, last year ended its Spanish online service, Alcampodirect, saying that Spanish customers had simply not taken to Internet shopping in the same way as customers in the UK (where Tesco, Sainsbury and others have well-established online services) or even in France, Auchan's home market, had done.
But capraboacasa.com has clearly been a major success - a performance which Caprabo puts down to three things: convenient delivery times (10:00 to 22:00, Monday to Saturday), speed of delivery and the development of a CD Rom which allows customers to place their orders without having to be connected to the Internet the whole time - making it much cheaper than other services.
The orders are delivered on special vans with three different compartments for chilled, frozen and ambient foods, ensuring that every item arrives in perfect condition, the company said. It takes just 10 minutes for the majority of orders to reach the 'virtual' supermarket once they have been placed, the company boasted, because of a system which allows previous users to save their regular orders.
The company said that most orders were placed between 10:00 and 12:00 or 20:00 and 22:00. Monday is the most popular day for shopping, while Saturday is the least popular. Online shoppers vary in age from around 30 to 55, Caprabo added.
Other Spanish retailers offering online services include Carrefour, whose Carrefouronline service claims to offer more than 10,000 product lines, El Corte Ingles, which claims to have 20,000 lines, and Eroski, whose service is limited to the greater Bilboa region at present.