Buying food online is great if you hate queuing in a supermarket or carrying heavy bags. Best case scenario, you select the food you want, pay for it and get it delivered straight to your door.

In Sweden though, which has a reputation as an early adopter when it comes to new technology, this has been a complete failure.

Less than 2% of the overall grocery shopping in Sweden is done online. Denmark is doing only slightly better and in Norway, it’s about the same as Sweden or worse. This is compared to 7.5% in the UK, 5.6% in France and 3.2% in Czechia.

So there is potential.

This is why players such as Kinnevik have started to invest in this market. Last year, the investment firm invested €31.4m in the Norwegian startup Kolonial, which was founded in 2013. They have set a goal to be able to deliver food to 40% of Norwegians (for free).

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This is a big challenge, given that people are pretty spread out in Norway.

Sweden’s Mathem, with a similar business model to Kolonial, has said it can deliver food to 50% of the population. If you buy for more than €70, delivery is free.

Given these big ambitions, it was not such a surprise when Kinnevik on Thursday announced that it has bought 38% stake in Mathem for approximately €90m.

Can companies like Kolonial and Mathem change the situation in Scandinavia?

Most probably. With the failure of the big supermarkets to attract customers to their online shops, there is a big gap in the market. As long as the supermarkets do not realise the demand for free deliveries all hours of the day, the customers may be tempted to go with a new supplier.  

And with the big bag of cash and experience that Kinnevik delivers, maybe these companies can help increase the percentage of food shopping online.

With the potential of taking market shares from the big grocery shops, big money spenders will most probably continue to look out for more potential investments in this field.

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