As the five major online retailers geared up for the pre-Easter rush, we put them to the test and discovered that their operations were much like the chocolates that they were busy delivering. Some were crisp and smooth, and others were just a little sticky to say the least.
The majority of our mystery web shoppers found their online systems easy to navigate, and had no problems getting delivery slots for the all-important Easter weekend.
There was also an abundance of slots available in the run-up period and Sainsbury and Asda were both offering next-day delivery.
In addition, all the deliveries were made within their designated time slots, which is an improvement on our Christmas report.
We had asked our shoppers to order the same list as appears in The Grocer 33 this week, and while none of them were able to order all 33 products in the required formats and sizes, the results prove that the retailers appear to be getting to grips with how they pick their substitutions.
The issue of substitutions has caused consternation in the past, and getting it right is all the more pertinent at this time of year.
However this time none of our shoppers had any complaints with the quality or logic of their substituted items, although our Sainsbury shopper was rather disappointed with the sheer number that she received.
The delivery arrived on time but the driver left one of her bags in the back of his truck.
However, he called her as soon as he became aware of the error and returned to deliver the remaining bag within the hour.
Six of the products that she had ordered were substituted and there were further problems with the quantities of products that were delivered.
She received double the ordered amounts of garlic, Australian red wine and fresh turkey steaks, but was not charged for them on the receipt. Meanwhile, the own label fish fingers were never delivered.
Our Asda shopper fared much better. Her delivery arrived with just two substitutions, and was within her selected time slot.
However, she was a little baffled by the fact that 19 plastic bags were used to deliver just 31 items, and thought this a bit excessive.
The £4.95 delivery charge has also increased to £5.95 since our last report.
Waitrose put up a sterling performance in terms of ordering and delivery. Our shopper shops online a lot, but this was the first time that she had ever used Waitrose and she said it would definitely not be the last.
She found that the ordering process was quick and simple to use, and was impressed with the way that own label products are listed separately from branded ones in their categories. All 32 items were delivered with only one substitution.
She was further impressed with the way that products had been grouped in their respective categories in sturdy marked bags. For example frozen products were packed in bags labelled 'frozen'.
Her one gripe was with the fact that Waitrose will only deliver if the total value of the order is more than £50.
As a result she had to order some extra items in order to make it up, which she found rather annoying.
Tesco and Ocado were the only retailers to deliver the list exactly as ordered without any substitutions. Both of our mystery shoppers said that they found the sites easy to use and their deliveries arrived on-time and in a well-packed state.
Star order: Ocado
The Grocer 33 Online: Availability and promotion