Six shoppers ordered from a list of 33 items on Thursday April 1 for delivery on Saturday April 10 - Easter weekend.
Despite vast improvements in stock availability, substitutions and fulfilment compared with our online Easter shop carried out last year, our mystery shoppers gave supermarkets’ online operations a thumbs down this time.
“On the whole I was disappointed with the online ordering from Tesco and think it could be organised a little clearer,” said one shopper.
Another said of Waitrose: “I would not consider using this service again unless there was a
free delivery offer for the online shopping service.”
The disappointment and frustration cited by the shoppers will be a blow to the supermarkets, which are beginning to crank up their home shopping operations. So far only Tesco has achieved near nationwide coverage, with over £500m annual sales and profits last year of £12.2m.
Asda plans expansion to cover 40% of the UK from August (The Grocer, April 3 p6) while both Ocado and Sainsbury expect that their online operations will break even this year.
Lack of choice over delivery dates was one issue for our shoppers. Asda, which has consistently been a poor performer in our online surveys, was unable to deliver on the date requested as the store serving the Hatfield-based shopper had reduced its delivery slots to Fridays only. The nearest to Easter - Good Friday - was already booked.
The first slot a replacement Surrey-based Asda shopper could secure was 7-9pm on April 10. Our Ocado shopper faced the same problem, having to cancel a Saturday night out to stay in for a 9-10pm delivery.
At Iceland the shopper was unable to book this far ahead so had to reserve the following Tuesday before contacting the call centre to move delivery to a time on Saturday.
But the biggest gripe was sell-by dates. Waitrose sausages did not feature an expiry date while Sainsbury’s delivered a pack of own-label thick pork sausages two days past the use-by date. When contacted Sainsbury’s agreed to send an e-voucher to cover the price (78p).
Finding products also proved to be a problem, especially with Kit Kat which shoppers intuitively expected to be listed under chocolate not biscuits. “Too long was spent trying to guess which department items would be in,” said one shopper.
The good news, however, was that five of the six retailers delivered 33 items, including appropriate substitutions, with Sainsbury cheapest at £37.67.
>>p30 Opinion, p37 Lost in an online maze