Online grocery services: Which should I try?
Yesterday the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a partial lockdown in the UK, asking everyone in the country to stay at home other than under very specific circumstances.
While people are able to leave their home to visit shops once a day, Johnson encouraged people to shop for food online where they can.
This led to another surge in online traffic crashing many grocery websites already struggling under the unprecedented demand.
Charged has taken a look at all the UK’s major online grocery services, how they are performing under the pressure and which ones are most likely to allow you to make an online delivery.
The UK’s largest grocer has managed to keep its online grocery service running throughout the outbreak unlike some of its smaller rivals.
It is also still accepting new signups and Charged was able to register and begin shopping within minutes, while its app is also still functioning.
Despite still being available, there were no delivery slots available in London for the next three weeks (April 12), which is the furthest you’re able to order in advance.
Tesco has also imposed restrictions on a range of items in high demand, limiting pasta, long life milk, antibacterial wipes, gels and sprays to five per customer.
Meanwhile Tesco’s own brand basic dry pasta and packets of Cushelle 24-pack toilet roll are currently unavailable.
Over the weekend Tesco said it wold hire 20,000 new temporary workers for at least the next 12 weeks to help meet increased demand.
With unprecedented numbers of customer enquiries, we're working very hard to respond as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding. pic.twitter.com/BACy5J7A8g
— Morrisons (@Morrisons) March 20, 2020
Morrisons online delivery service is still running and the grocer is still accepting new signups on its desktop platform.
Despite this there were no delivery slots available in London for the next three weeks (April 13), and the grocer has been forced to close its app “due to the current high demand”
“We are working hard to fix any online issues as they occur. We would recommend if you are experiencing problems that you try again later,” Morrisons site read.
All product ranges available on morrisons.com will now see a three-item restriction imposed as the grocer seeks to “ensure more customers have access to everyday essentials”.
While Morrisons has pledged to expand its online delivery capacity amid “unprecedented challenges” and it hiring 3500 new staff, it also said it planned to take measures to slash its instore ranges by up to a third so that shelves could be replenished more quickly.
Currently Iceland’s home delivery service has been suspended for the majority of customers due to high demand.
Only “elderly, vulnerable or self-isolating” customers are able to order online from the frozen food giant.
“This means that we’re temporarily limiting online orders to customers who are over state pension age, self-isolating and other vulnerable people, such as the disabled. If you aren’t over state pension age and can get to one of our stores, we kindly ask that you use our Store Locator to find your local Iceland and complete your shop there,” a message on the website reads.
“Please note that due to continued high demand in our stores, customers may still be missing items in their online orders…We’ll be in contact to let you know when online deliveries are back to normal.”
Our website and customer service teams are very busy today helping elderly and vulnerable customers get access to home delivery slots. Please do keep trying – we’re working as quickly as we can to get to everyone.
— Sainsbury's (@sainsburys) March 23, 2020
While Sainsbury’s online delivery service is still running, it is no longer accepting new signups to its site and as of this week will only be delivering to vulnerable customers.
Sainsbury’s says it is focusing on its existing customers and is “not currently able to support any new website registrations and will no longer be accepting delivery pass applications”.
Meanwhile Sainsbury’s said that from Monday March 23 “our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots”.
The retailer says it will “contact these customers in the coming days with more details”, adding that it has been able to identify some existing customers who are elderly, disabled and vulnerable but is encouraging anyone who thinks they qualify to call 0800 328 1700.
Sainsbury’s is also placing limits of three items per person on any grocery item and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.
Like most retailers, we've seen a heightened demand for products in stores and online. From today, customers will ONLY be able to buy up to three of any product across all food items, toiletries and cleaning products. Find out more: https://t.co/5HbDu3eYn9 pic.twitter.com/s69KuL9HzX
— Asda (@asda) March 18, 2020
Asda has also been able to keep its online shopping website and app functional during the spike in demand and is still accepting new sign-ups.
It is also one of the few services to offer delivery slots over the next week in London, compared to the majority of its rivals which have no slots available for the next three weeks.
Asda states that customers will “ONLY be able to buy up to three of any product across all food items, toiletries and cleaning products.”
“As we’re sure you can understand our customer service team is really busy at the moment, so we would ask you to consider if your enquiry is urgent before contacting us to ensure we can assist those customer who are most vulnerable. If you do have an urgent enquiry we’ll do our very best to help.”
Ocado has been one of the worst hit by high demand and last week was forced to close down its website entirely while it caught up on a backlog of orders.
While its website is currently running again, it is no longer accepting new sign ups, stating that it has “made the call to temporarily prioritise deliveries for our existing customers.
“We’re very sorry, but as a result we are unable to offer you a delivery slot at the moment. Unfortunately, new customer bookings will not be processed.”
This follows last week that Ocado had temporarily took its app offline citing performance issues “driven by continued high demand”.
A reported 1000 per cent jump in site traffic also forced Ocado to inform customers not to wait if they intended to place a new order as it had “no new delivery slots for the next few days”.
Waitrose is also struggling to keep up with the increased pressure on its service, seeing shoppers unable to process any online delivery orders earlier this month.
While its website is currently running and accepting new sign-ups, a banner notice informs customers that both online delivery and click & collect services are unavailable at the moment.
“Sorry, all slots are unavailable right now | We’re not able to offer home delivery and Click & Collect slots at the moment – but you can still amend or cancel existing orders.”
It added that while it was not putting a cap on any items instore, it was introducing temporary caps on certain online products including “antibacterial soaps and wipes, to ensure customers have access to the products they need”.