York shoppers have become among the first in the country to benefit from a new online delivery service launched by retail giant Morrisons this week.

The Bradford-based retailer, which started as a market stall in the West Yorkshire city in 1899, has become the latest high-street name to cash in on the growing home shopping market.

The launch of the online service in York followed a decision by the company that its traditional Yorkshire heartland would become one of the first areas to enjoy the benefits of armchair retail therapy.

The fleet of yellow vans began delivering groceries to homes across the York area from this week, in a move the company says will set new standards for the delivery of fresh food.

Chief executive Dalton Philips said: “This fresh food offer will be the closest thing on the internet to being in a store and selecting food yourself.

“Customers do have concerns about buying fresh food online and today we believe we’ve come up with the answer.” Morrisons has made a name for itself for the supply of high-quality fresh food prepared by butchers, bakers and fishmongers, and the store says the online offering will ensure this continues.

The company says it is leading the way in online retailing.

By logging on to Morrisons.com virtual butcher, for example, customers can choose how thickly their steak is cut.

Orders will then be expertly prepared by Morrisons Academy-trained butchers in its manufacturing sites.

A company spokesman said: “One of shoppers’ biggest concerns when shopping online is freshness, so Morrisons has introduced its expert review and doorstep check.

“The expert review is a rosette rating system that gives customers an honest assessment of the quality and seasonality of every item of produce.

“The doorstep check allows customers to check the freshness of the products before they accept them.”

The company is also pledging a fair deal on delivery charges – which will not vary when demand changes. Consumers will pay a fixed £1, £3 or £5 to receive their goods depending on whether it’s peak, off-peak or standard times.

One of the biggest headaches of home shopping is that consumers do not like hanging around waiting for orders.

“Morrisons customers will receive a one-hour time slot because they have told us that two hours is too long to wait,” a spokesman said.