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UK Grocery Retailer Deep Dive: Morrisons

7 min read

What brands need to know about selling on Morrisons,
the grocery retailer pushing the quick delivery envelope.

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In our latest UK online grocery deep dive we take a look at Morrisons, the fourth largest online grocery retailer in the UK and one of the “big four” grocers alongside Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. Brands selling on Morrisons have the opportunity to benefit from this retailer’s strong market share, sophisticated search algorithm, and innovation around quick delivery.

However brands also must compete with Morrison’s 1000’s of private label products, not to mention other key competitors. Read on to learn how to win the digital shelf on Morrisons…

Morrisons: scaling for growth by being “naturally digital”

Morrisons started out as an egg and butter merchant in 1899 and now ranks fourth in terms of market share at 9.5%. Like all UK grocers, Morrisons scaled its online capacity significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, recruiting an additional 68,000 new staff to expand its online delivery service.

The investment helped see Morrisons’ online sales triple in 2021 as their base of online customers grew from 132,000 per week to over 500,000. Morrisons is unique in that it produces a substantial amount of its own produce including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and baked goods, enabling it to build a wholesale business supplying Amazon and McColl’s.

Morrisons’ wider strategy is all about: competitive prices, customer service, simplifying and speeding up the business, scaling for growth, and being “naturally digital”. This includes digitised shelf labels for automated pricing and stock updates, a mobile app that allows staff to automate pricing and update stock, and personalised offers via the app-based My Morrisons digital loyalty scheme. 

Morrisons’ omnichannel strategy: it’s all about quick commerce and collaboration

Morrison’s multichannel strategy has relied largely on strategic partnerships strongly geared towards offering fast and convenient delivery: 

  • Morrisons has partnered with Ocado since 2013 using its technology and distribution infrastructure to support its own online grocery store (which is why Morrisons’ and Ocado’s websites are so similar). 
  • Morrisons proved resilient during the pandemic by being a strategic wholesale supplier to Amazon. “Morrisons on Amazon” expanded rapidly during 2021, enabling Amazon Prime shoppers in more than 50 British towns and cities to get same-day grocery deliveries when they buy via Amazon. Morrisons reports that Amazon sales account for more than 10% of sales in stores that offer the service.
  • Morrisons is the only UK supermarket to have food stocked by Amazon Fresh which helped Morrisons’ boost its online sales by 113% in Q1 2021 (the three brick-and-mortar Amazon Fresh stores in London are all stocked by Morrisons). 
  • Morrisons partners with Deliveroo, available in over 180 stores, which allows customers to order groceries for delivery in as little as 30 minutes
  • Morrisons recently partnered with Gopuff, a platform for immediate delivery, bringing delivery times down even further to as little as 15-20 minutes for shoppers at over 20 supported locations.

We are building on the momentum we created during the year. We have demonstrated resilience, innovation, speed to market and a relentless focus on the customer. Our online channels are good examples of this, with sales tripling by the end of the year. We also leveraged and benefitted from our unique food manufacturing businesses, and were at the forefront of new ideas such as delivery boxes, doorstep deliveries and wholesale bulk supplies.”

- Andrew Higginson,
Chairman of Morrisons,
Morrisons Annual Report 2020/2021


Know your retailer: decoding the Morrisons Algorithm

Winning on Morrisons is all about mastering the two fundamental rules
for eCommerce sales:

  1. Increase traffic to your product pages
  2. Create product pages that convert 

Graphics_Obszar roboczy 1 kopia 10-1Let’s look at how this works for Morrisons…

Getting Traffic on Morrisons

In order for people to view your products on Morrisons, they need to be able
to find them. 

  • Are your products in stock in the first place? 
  • Can you be found through Morrison’s category taxonomy? 
  • Can you be found on search? 
  • Are you showing up for all the correct filters? 

Availability: Protect Out of Stocks

In order for people to buy your products, they need to be in stock and available to purchase in the first place. Availability is key to not only sales but also visibility and customer loyalty. When a product goes out of stock, Morrisons tends to demote the product on the shelf, and recommend competing brands
in its place.

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When Kellog’s Dark Chocolate Curls granola went out of stock, Morrisons “Alternatives” included four competing brands: Jordans, Pret, and two
of Morrisons’ own brands.

Are you visible in all of the correct categories
and subcategories on Morrisons?

Category visibility is key to conversion: it makes your product more likely to be found and subsequently purchased by shoppers. This is obviously true for shoppers using category menus to browse products. But on Morrisons, category relevance is also uniquely relevant to search as compared to other retailers. Morrisons actually sorts and ranks search results by category, with a massive emphasis on promotions. So if a shopper searches for pasta, they’ll show a selection from the category “Fusilli & Spirals”, then a section on “Macaroni and Tubes”, and so on. Categories are presumably ordered by product popularity. This has a few implications: 

  • If you’re in one of those top categories displayed in search, you want to make sure you’re ranking at the top (more on that below)
  • If you’re not in one of those top categories, you want to make sure that people find you when they filter on the category their looking for (say if a customer clicks the “Spaghetti” filter)

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Search results for keyword “pasta” on Morrisons. Search position and visibility is fundamentally determined by category.

Read more about how to select the best categories and subcategories for your products.

Morrisons SEO: Winning on Search

If you want to rank at the top in Morrisons organic search then you have to understand how Morrison’s search algorithm works. Retailers typically keep their search algorithms a highly guarded secret, but we can infer a few things about Morrisons from observation. 

We’ve classified Morrisons in the “advanced” category when it comes to search. Being driven by Ocado’s website technology, Morrisons search algorithm is more sophisticated relative to the likes of Tesco and Asda where subtle differences in keyword order and spelling can have a direct impact on search results (“&” vs “and”, “rice crispies” vs “rice krispies”, etc). Morrisons’ search is wise to these variations and gives extra weight to keyword relevance, category relevance, and context. It’s also assumed that Morrisons’ search correlates with other factors such as stock availability and historical sales. 


Retailer search engines explained. Learn more in our UK Grocery eCommerce Overview

Morrisons search at a glance: 

  • Default sort: Favourites first
  • Search bar suggests: Categories and brands
  • Filter options: Categories and brands
  • Other notes: Identical to Ocado with additional priority for Morrison’s private label (Morrisons licenses Ocado’s technology for automation, logistics, distribution, and software solutions that underpin their website)

Top tips for mastering Morrisons SEO: 

  • Win the category by maximising your category and subcategory presence - make sure you’re located everywhere you should be.
  • Focus your keyword research on long and short tail keywords. Use the Morrisons search bar to research keywords for your products (search bar keyword suggestions are typically a good indicator of popular search phrases). 
  • Win the keyword by including relevant keywords in the title and product description. Include a mix of both general and long-tail keywords.

Here’s an example in practice: 

In the search for “vegan ice cream”, Swedish Glace Dairy Free Smooth Vanilla Ice Cream ranks in the top spot. This despite not having “vegan ice cream” in the product title. Instead, they’ve nailed the category and loaded the keyword and associated keywords in the product description. Note also the use of secondary keywords such as “dairy-free ice cream”, “soy ice cream”, “gluten-free”, etc.

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Use Morrisons’ multiple touchpoints to drive the sale

Don’t forget the myriad ways shoppers can find your product on Morrisons beyond search and category browsing. Here’s a run-down of all the ways Morrisons can show your product to shoppers: 

  • Display and banner ads
  • Sponsored products
  • Visual brand filters
  • Special offers
  • Branded search recommendations

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Note: Morrisons’ massively boosts promotions and price cuts in search. This means if you’re not on promotion, your products risk falling off the first page. This is one of the reasons why digital shelf monitoring is essential on a retailer like Morrisons. You can protect your visibility on the shelf by tracking competitor promo activity and first page presence. Monitoring tools let you spot and respond to any changes in search share before they become a recurring problem. 

How to create Morrisons Product Pages that convert

Getting traffic to your product pages is just half the battle. How do you create outstanding product pages on Morrisons that will convince the shopper to add the item to their cart? Morrison’s supports multiple images and the usual content areas (Description, Nutrition, etc). Here’s how to use them to your advantage: 

  • Make sure you’re using mobile-optimised images
  • Use Informative images that show the product and packaging
  • Provide a rich product description
  • Cultivate a large number of positive reviews

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How to Compete with Morrisons Private Labels

The pandemic helped usher in a shift to private labels as preferred brands haven’t always been on the shelf, and tighter pockets mean shoppers are looking for value - especially at Morrisons which has 1000’s of own brand products including Morrisons Savers and Morrisons The Best. Morrisons tends to prioritise its own brand labels in search bar suggestions and search results. How can you be among the brands ranking above Morrisons private labels? 

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Morrisons brand awareness, usage, popularity, loyalty and buzz among online grocery delivery users in the UK in 2022. Source: Statista

The good news is that while Morrisons brand awareness is high, brand loyalty to Morrisons is relatively low. Of all UK online grocery delivery users, only 34% said they like Morrisons, and only 20% said they’re likely to use Morrisons again. So for brands, there’s a strong opportunity to win the shopper over the private label, provided you get a few things right.

Build stories about your brand that challenge Morrisons private labels. Morrison’s product pages are often very spartan, using just one image, and a short description. The example below even has a typo in the title (“&Vinegar”). So how do you tell your story?  

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Remember content is everything. Tell your story with great content including images and product descriptions. Given Morrison’s dependency for minimal product pages, you have an opportunity to stand out by creating compelling content that convinces customers why they should choose you. 

Use keywords to your advantage. Morrisons doesn’t have to optimise on keywords as it will already be prioritising its own brand in its search algorithm. But this doesn’t always mean that Morrisons ends up on top (see the “ice cream” example below). You have a chance to outrank Morrisons by creating more detailed keyword-rich content that not only helps to tell your story, but also target the search terms that shoppers are using on Morrisons.

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Organic search rank for keyword “ice cream”. Morrisons own brand doesn’t appear until position #3. Other brands have managed to outrank Morrisons’ own brand label by optimising their product pages with more keyword-rich and story-driven content.

Measuring Digital Shelf Performance on Morrisons

As always with a retailer like Morrisons we recommend having a measurement strategy in place so you can easily monitor performance on the key drivers
of traffic and conversion. 

  • Availability - Are your products in stock? Can you anticipate stock issues
    at Morrisons ahead of peak occasions? 
  • Category presence - Are you showing up in the right categories
    and subcategories on Morrisons? 
  • Search performance - How many products are appearing in the Top 3 or the Top 10 organic search results? 
  • Granular keyword data - Which products are ranking for specific keywords and how high do they rank? 
  • Content - Do products contain the target keywords in the title and description? 

Want to see the FULL UK Grocery eCommerce Overview?

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This e-commerce guide for UK food and beverage brands provides an overview of the online grocery market, covering 8 major retailers and deciphering their nuances. Discover who, how, and what you can influence for retailer SEO and conversion.



Shazia Amin
Shazia Amin
Head of Insights

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