Grocery is a sadomasochistic business. Sellers can count on stable revenues but have little margin for error on sourcing, price and waste. Shoppers suffer from a retail version of Stockholm syndrome. They are lured by grocers with the promise of savings, only to be fleeced. Shops make them do the work of picking the produce and bagging it. They set traps in the aisles—in the form of strategically placed celebrity magazines or freshly baked doughnuts—to slow shoppers down. Yet customers continue to return for more, despite having ever more options to order online and have groceries delivered to their doorstep. In China and America, online grocery shopping is a miserly 3.8% and 1.6% of the total, respectively.
杂货业是一个施虐受虐的行业 。卖家可以指望稳定的收入，但在采购、成本和报废方面几乎没有容错的余地 。购物者患上了零售版的斯德哥尔摩综合症 。消费者被杂货商以省钱的许诺引诱，结果却被骗 。商店让消费者亲自采摘和装袋 。他们在过道设下陷阱——有目的地摆放名人杂志或新鲜出炉的甜甜圈——以减慢购物速度 。然而，尽管有了更多网上订购和送货上门的选择，顾客还是会继续购买更多的商品 。在中国和美国，网上购物分别只占其总数的3.8%和1.6% 。
Mr Steiner, a former Goldman Sachs bond trader, has pulled off the rare feat of making home-delivery both tolerable for shoppers and profitable for sellers. He knows how to squeeze the last farthing out of a tomato and has turned the sorting of groceries in warehouses into a science—specifically, clever robotics—which has kept costs competitive. Partly thanks to Ocado, Britain trails only South Korea and Japan in its embrace of online grocers.
斯坦纳曾是高盛的债券交易员，他完成了一项罕见的壮举，既让顾客可以接受送货上门，又让卖家有利可图 。他知道如何从番茄里挤出最后一分钱，并把仓库里的杂货分类变成了一门科学——尤其是敏捷机器人学——这让成本保持了竞争力 。英国在其在线杂货商方面仅次于韩国和日本，部分归功于Ocado 。
Earlier this year Mr Steiner persuaded Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, to pay £750m for a half of Ocado’s domestic online-grocery business. The money is helping develop his firm’s newer, more lucrative international venture, which licenses the know-how to build modular high-tech warehouses that can be scaled up as needed. The biggest deal, struck in 2018, has been with Kroger. The American supermarket chain aims to order 20 Ocado customer fulfilment centres (CFCs, or, as Kroger calls them, sheds) by 2021, far more than the four that Ocado has so far erected in Britain (the newest burned down this year). Despite their recent slide Ocado’s shares still trade like a software firm’s, not a supermarket’s. JPMorgan Cazenove, a broker, said last month that the firm would need to announce 126 CFCs to justify a recent valuation of £9bn, three times the number it has planned.
今年早些时候，斯坦纳先生说服英国零售商玛莎百货以7.5亿英镑收购了Ocado国内在线杂货业务的一半 。这笔钱正在帮助其公司发展新的、更有利可图的国际合资企业，该公司授权建造模块化高科技仓库的技术，这些仓库可以根据需要扩大规模 。最大的一笔交易是在2018年与克罗格达成的 。这家美国连锁超市计划在2021年之前订购20个Ocado客户履约中心(CFC，克罗格称之为“棚屋”)，远远超过Ocado目前在英国建立的4个(今年最新的一个烧毁了) 。尽管近来股价下跌，但Ocado仍像一家软件公司那样操盘，而非超市 。券商摩根大通嘉诚上月表示，该公司需要宣布126家客户履约中心，以证明其最近90亿英镑的估值是合理的，这是其计划估值的3倍 。