Battle Royale: Waitrose Enlists Deliveroo To Help It Take On M&S And Ocado | Business


Waitrose will test fast grocery deliveries with takeout courier company Deliveroo as it prepares to take on rival Marks & Spencer, who will finally start selling groceries online next week.After almost two decades together, online grocery specialist Ocado has ditched Waitrose and will switch to selling M&S food from Tuesday, sparking a brawl between the two grocers for the high-end online.

In a last-minute move, Waitrose unveiled a 12-week trial with Deliveroo, through which more than 500 products from the supermarket could be delivered within 30 minutes of five stores. The service will be available in stores such as Bristol, Cambridge and Notting Hill in West London, in addition to Waitrose’s two-hour Rapid service, which now operates in 29 stores and has 23,000 customers.

James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, said: “This gives us another opportunity to give our customers a taste of what the future of convenience store might look like to us.”


Efficient delivery service from distribution centers managed by robots

Minimum order: 40 £

Shipping cost: up to £ 6.99 depending on the schedule

Delivery slots available per week: 350 000

Blanket: around 75% of UK

Number of products: 50,000, including 6,000 M&S articles from Tuesday

Substitutions: 1%

Delayed deliveries: 5%

Fastest delivery: less than 30 minutes if you live near the Zoom facility in Chiswick, West London


Staff owned service from a mix of stores and warehouses

Minimum order: £ 40 (instead of £ 60)

Shipping cost: free

Delivery slots available per week: 160 000

Blanket: around 90% of UK

Number of products: up to 27,000, of which around half are own brands

Substitutions: on average two per order, with refund option or bigger / better product

Delayed deliveries: 6%

Fastest delivery: less than two hours via the Rapid service, which operates from 29 stores. Also less than 30 minutes via Deliveroo from five stores from September

While Waitrose runs mopeds and delivery bikes, Ocado will close two of its three giant robot-run warehouses on Monday so it can ship remaining Waitrose products to food banks and the Company Shop food redistributor. At the same time, thousands of M&S fresh produce will be transported by truck to join the boxes, packages and other less fragile and perishable goods that have gradually filled the warehouses of Ocado over the past three weeks.

Only Ocado buyers close to the group’s warehouse in Erith, south-east London, will be able to receive one of the latest Ocado deliveries of Waitrose products on Monday.

An Ocado home delivery van departs from the group’s warehouse in Erith, south-east London. Photograph: Bloomberg / Getty Images

Melanie Smith, the head of Ocado’s retail division, will be at one of the group’s first deliveries of M&S groceries on Tuesday around 6 a.m. – potentially in a van decked out in the M&S candy livery Percy Pig who was spotted on a covered highway. in black plastic before launch.

Smith said she felt relaxed about the move from Waitrose to M&S after 18 months of preparations, adding that there had been a “high level of forward demand” for the move. Despite the gradual unwinding of coronavirus lockdowns and a return to work for many, Ocado’s delivery slots are still selling out daily, with every Tuesday being phased out earlier this week.

Bailey, who only joined Waitrose in May, said he was “optimistic” especially as the shift to online shopping during the pandemic had already helped Waitrose replace those Ocado sales.

Waitrose's new electric van initiative.

Waitrose’s new electric van initiative. Photograph: John Lewis Partnership / PA

Waitrose, part of the John Lewis partnership, has won more than 100,000 additional online orders per week – or about 250,000 customers – since the lockdown began. Online sales are already at an annualized rate of £ 1bn, the group’s target for the end of the year. But the retailer is clearly ambitious for more with two last-minute changes this week.

First Waitrose has reduced its minimum order from £ 60 to £ 40, which puts it on a par with Ocado. Then he announced the Deliveroo trial.

During the pandemic, the surge in online shopping – which has nearly doubled to now represent more than 13% of the UK grocery market – helped both sides in a high-stakes game.

Pumpkins, carrots and broccoli for sale in the fresh food section of a Marks & Spencer store.

Pumpkins, carrots and broccoli for sale in the fresh food section of a Marks & Spencer store. Photograph: Bloomberg / Getty Images

M&S has spent £ 750million on a half share of Ocado’s retail division, to which it will supply 6,000 products – mostly groceries along with clothing and household items – as it finds belatedly a way to sell groceries online. M&S is hoping to ride a wave in which Ocado sales rose 40% during the pandemic after slashing prices and reformulating products to try and match Waitrose favorites. M&S is also catching up on the well-established UK grocery delivery market.

Waitrose has spent £ 100million to improve its online business, increasing capacity by 50% during the pandemic as it tries to attract enough buyers to make up for lost sales by Ocado. With 85 percent of its online orders picked up in stores, the retailer appears to have been able to adapt much faster than Ocado’s robots to the recent surge in customer demand. The opening of a new distribution center in west London later this year will double the number of delivery slots in the capital, the supermarket chain said.

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Bailey said the biggest change would be a more direct relationship with his buyers. While Waitrose supplied 4,000 products to Ocado, accounting for about a quarter of the latter’s grocery sales, it has had no contact with them.

“Now we’ll be the # 1 connection with customers online and can connect with them about the brands we sell, where our food comes from and everything that makes Waitrose special and different,” Bailey said.

The battle for Waitrose is not just about Ocado and M&S, but also Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Amazon, all of which are investing heavily in online expansion. Food box businesses, such as Riverford, and meal kit services have also seen massive growth as restaurants and cafes have been closed.

Despite the gradual return to offices and schools, Ms Smith said she didn’t expect Ocado shoppers to return to stores. “The obstacle for us is the shift to online shopping. Once customers start, they tend to stay online. Competitors have done a great service for us, allowing many people to shop online, ”she said.


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