Marks & Spencer has said it will begin trialling online groceries towards the end of this year.

The soft trial, which will begin in the autumn, will see the retailer's groceries available online, as well as offering customers home delivery.

The M&S Food Halls have been noticeably absent from the online battles being fought by the big grocers, with the likes of Amazon Fresh and other delivery start-ups also entering this very competitive space.

The retailer's CEO, Steve Rowe, said M&S has not lost customers by not being online so far, but it needs to plan for the future.

"Our customers haven’t moved yet, but they will and we need to ensure that we are ready with the right response," he said. "There are unanswered questions over what this means for M&S and we have a team looking at this now with a view to undertaking a soft trial in the autumn. The economics of food online are not straight forward and it is not something that we are going to rush into until we have substantial customer insight and a better understanding of what is right for M&S and right for our customers."