Online grocery shopping is currently big business in the UK and it’s only going to get bigger. All the major UK supermarkets have jumped on the bandwagon, fully understanding the need for parents to avoid setting foot in a supermarket with screaming toddlers, long queues and hordes of shopping bags. With Ocado, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons all offering their competitive stamp on online grocery shopping, which supermarket offers the best general service? Let’s compare.
|Overall prices||More than half the price of other leading supermarkets, so definitely cheaper||Very competitive prices and great value for money. On par with Asda prices||Generally, a little more expensive than their counterparts, but almost always offering half price deals||Middle of the road prices with occasional savings on sale items. Basics items are quite good quality.||Tesco's prices are getting more expensive! Products are great, but you can shop cheaper elsewhere|
|Delivery charges||Between £1 and £6||Between £1 and £6||Free to £6||Between £1 and £6|
Orders under £40 are charged at £6.45
Free delivery after 2pm Monday to Thursday on orders over £100
|Between £1 and £6|
|Delivery slot time available||6am to 11pm – 2 hour slots||6am to 11pm – 2 hour slots||6am to 11pm – 1 hour slots||8am – 11pm - 2 hour slots||8am to 11pm – 1 to 4 hour slots|
|Minimum spend||£40||£40||£40||£25||£4 additional charge to orders under £40|
|Click and collect||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customer service||There is a tendency to assume that the customer service operators are not fully communicative with the delivery drivers and respond with the automated 'Driver is on his way' without checking first whether they are or not!||Generally, very communicative and easy to reach. It's touch and go whether the drivers will be friendly or not, but they do offer to load to the kitchen and don't just dump the shopping outside. That is a plus.||Customer service, in my experience, is impeccable. Operators are chirpy and readily available to offer information, as well as accurate details of delivery information and driver whereabouts.||Customer service is professional and courteous. Have never had a problem with drivers||Drivers have always been polite and on time and customer service has been friendly|
|Any incentives||You can pick up a delivery pass and enjoy home deliveries for £5 a month.|
You can also shop until midnight for next day delivery
|Lots of slashed prices and delivery slots start from £1|
New customers can also shave £7.50 off orders £75 or over
Match & More incentive offers you the chance to match lower prices from other brands
|New online Ocado shoppers can cut £20 off their first online order (over £80) or £15 for orders over £60|
Customers can also get a free annual midweek pass, which includes one free delivery at any time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Minimum spend is £40 per order and offer ends 30 April 2016)
|Annual pass is £60 for unlimited free deliveries seven days a week. Or £30 for free deliveries on Tuesdays to Thursdays if you spend at least £40 per order|
Sainsbury's are also offering £15 - £20 off orders over £60
Free delivery after 2pm Monday to Thursday on orders over £100
|Free next day click and collect.
Customers sign up for a free 30-day 'Anytime Delivery Saver Plan' and enjoy free deliveries 7 days a week.
|Substitutions||Notoriously well known for substituting products whenever possible.||There have been a couple on occasion, but generally have kept to the products originally ordered.||I have used Ocado more times than any other delivery service and they haven't substituted any of my products as yet.||Have had trouble with substitutions and being overcharged before. But, products were always fresh and neatly packed||Had trouble with some substitutions, but generally accepted them without being overcharged|
|Apps and resources to order your groceries||Internet, Apple Store, Android for Asda Mobile app||Internet and mobile apps (Apple and Android)||Internet and Mobile app (Android and Apple)||Internet, but, somehow, Sainsbury's Mobile app seems to have disappeared!||Internet and mobile apps (Android and Apple)|
|General online experience||Unfortunately, the general consensus is that customers' general experience of Asda online grocery shopping is quite poor. Being well known for overcharging on substitutions, delivering late and offering poor customer service, as well as my own horror experiences with no show deliveries and difficult to understand customer service operators, it is safe to say that I probably won't be shopping online with Asda again.||Generally, great online shopping experience and friendly customer service. The products are great and you can save a lot of money shopping at Morrisons, especially if you take advantage of the £1 delivery times.||From the beginning right to the end, Ocado's online grocery service is a breeze. The booking system is simple and you are almost always able to pick the delivery slot that you want. If you opt for a Smart Pass your delivery charges are free and you can enjoy tons of half price deals, which work out cheaper than other competitive supermarkets. Drivers sometimes even turn up early if they have already delivered in your neighbourhood!||Lovely place to shop in store, but I have had problems with being overcharged with substitutions in the past. Otherwise, great value for money if you shop basics, and take advantage of the £25 minimum spend.||Customer service is professional, friendly and prompt. Drivers have been helpful and products have always been delivered in one piece and fresh.|
(Table information correct at February 2016 – Data may change after this date)
Morrisons jumped onto the online shopping bandwagon quite late into the game, but they have continued to deliver with their great customer service and fantastically cheap products, in my experience. The drivers have been friendly and every effort has been made to notify me of any substitutions made in advance of the grocery delivery. However, it is Ocado who have revolutionised the online service and are making a clear profit, ahead of their competitors. They are the leaders in their innovative warehouse picking design, opting to use massive conveyor belts that move from station to station, accurately picking and sorting through your grocery shopping, with very few substitutions being made. As far as I am aware, the other supermarkets still use manpower to hand pick out products, which may have run out of stock the night before the delivery is actually made. Ocado’s communication with the customer is second to none. I have yet to speak to a moody, grumpy or rude Ocado employee and the driver always offers to deliver everything straight to the kitchen, rather than just the doorstep. So, from my experience and other customers’ experiences online, I believe that Ocado is the best online grocery shopping service in the UK and will continue to be, as long as they keep up with their great customer service and fantastic operating system for delivering goods to customers on time.
Unfortunately, on the other end of the scale, Asda came out last, with a shocking number of complaints about substitutions, bad customer service and actual delivery no-shows. In fact, my sister can recall a particularly bad experience with Asda during the Christmas period, where the driver didn’t show up for almost two days. It had later transpired that even though the customer service operator repeatedly assured my sister that the ‘driver was on his way’, the driver had actually gone home sick. Asda had promised 11 people that 1 additional driver would deliver all their shopping at the same time. Needless to say, the driver was very apologetic on the phone for the mix-up, but reiterated that he was not superman and could not deliver 11 people’s grocery shopping in 2 hours! Oh dear…
A few tips on how to get the best of online grocery delivery service
- mySupermarket is a great website which allows you to switch your basket between different supermarket accounts, saving you money overall on your shopping and delivery charges
- There are always savings to be made. Ocado is revolutionary for customer incentives, offering free delivery passes and half-price offers on products.
- Book as far in advance as possible (preferably on a Saturday and Sunday morning) as this massively brings down the price of delivery
- You can always edit your order up to the night (or even the day) before delivery, so don’t be afraid to utilise this service
- Take advantage of cheap £1 delivery slots wherever possible
- Substitutions and short best-before dates are a real inconvenience, so get on the phone and complain. You may even get a refund or compensation
- Delivery passes are available from Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco, which can save you on those £1 to £6 delivery charges for every order. Prices vary from £60 to £110 per year.
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