Drinks retailer Majestic Wine said today that the rate of eCommerce sales growth has slowed, reflecting greater competition in the online wine market.

Online sales for the 12 months to 31 March 2014 were up 5.8% on the previous year, representing 11.4% of overall sales, but with the likes of Virgin Wines, Naked Wines and Wine Direct there are a number of specialists fighting for a share of the online shoppers' spend. Some of the UK's larger supermarkets, including Waitrose, have also recently invested in their wine expertise, increasing competition in the field further.

Majestic Wine, which successfully launched the third generation of its website last summer with the aim of enhancing the online customer experience, today vowed that the current financial year will be one of investment and will include implementing a more personalised approach to email marketing.

Group profit before tax increased from £23.7 million last year to £23.8 million, with like-for-like sales in UK retail stores dipping by 0.1% year on year.

Steve Lewis, CEO of the retailer, said: "Majestic made good operational progress in the last year and despite the difficult trading environment delivered a solid performance. 

"2015 will be a year of increased investment for Majestic to ensure that we have the right infrastructure to maximise on our long-term opportunities for future growth."

Majestic said that the number of online orders it processed during the course of the year increased by 4.9% to 245,000, while the average transaction value online edged up £1 to £135.

"We are investing further in our eCommerce in-house design and development competences to accelerate the rate of change made to the site," Lewis added.

"We will soon introduce a new multichannel customer relationship management programme and make improvements to product ratings and reviews as well as guided selling. Further development into our mobile site will commence shortly."