Ocado is back on top, excelling in all departments: delivery was free, availability perfect, detailed information was available by clicking on products, and the website was fast.

The online Waitrose shop took longer than most and availability was average. Our shopper was happy with substitutions but alternative products weren’t always flagged up. Still, offers couldn’t be missed, checkout was “smooth”, and the delivery driver friendly, explaining the receipt, substitutions and return process.

At Asda registration was simple and web pages loaded quickly. Missed deals were flagged at the checkout. One product wasn’t available and the site didn’t suggest alternatives. On delivery there were six substitutions, but our shopper was happy with them. However, the driver didn’t offer to bring the shopping in.

The Tesco site looked “average” but was “fairly easy to navigate”. Allergy information was “lacking”. Despite our shopper selecting the “no bags” option, seven were used. The “very pleasant” delivery driver couldn’t be faulted, however.

It only took 20 minutes to place an order with Sainsbury’s but alternative products weren’t offered for the five items that couldn’t be found. The driver was “professional” but didn’t offer to bring the shopping in.

Ordering with Morrisons took over an hour – it wasn’t clear how to register. Alternatives weren’t provided for seven items that weren’t available. Checkout was far more “straightforward”, though delivery was 16 minutes late. The driver did at least let our shopper know.

service and availability

bag count

Star order: ocado

Name: Lawrence Hene

Job Title: Director of marketing and grocery retail, Ocado

What are you doing to ensure the business continues to turn a profit while delivering great customer service? For us, good customer service is in our DNA and is core to our proposition. If we continue to deliver to plan, the financial side looks after itself. The focus on all the teams is to deliver the customer experience.

How do you ensure customers get their shop delivered in optimum condition? Our model removes stages in the supply chain. We hold stock for less time so it gets to customers fresher. We have perfect first-in-first-out rotation because we don’t have customers taking stock. We get it to customers quicker and we guarantee the product’s shelf life on the website.

What else are you doing to ensure shoppers get the best possible service? We put a lot of effort into making sure the right products are delivered, and into monitoring all customer feedback to make sure we remove any kinks in the system. If a specific product is being damaged more than we expect, we use the data to understand what the cause is and then eliminate it. Also, the website makes it as easy as possible to find what customers are looking for. We invest a lot of time in the search engine, how we categorise products, and making it easy to get in touch with us.

How have you managed to balance providing as much detail as possible about products without overloading customers? If you look at search results we give very limited information about products, but when you click on the pack you get a huge amount. If a customer is really interested and wants to find out more, it is easily accessible but you don’t present all the information at the same time.