Waitrose to introduce online delivery charges for first time in its history

Waitrose is introducing a delivery charge to customers for the first time in its history to “bring us in line with the rest of the market” and cover the increasing costs of picking and packing.

Waitrose, which alongside Iceland remains the only major UK grocer continuing to offer free delivery, is understood to have introduced the fees to customers in some areas last month.

According to The Grocer, the fees were introduced quietly on a “trial” basis in order to reflect the increasing number of online orders it is fulfilling, now accounting for around 20 per cent of its overall sales.

Since lockdown began in March 2020, the online grocery market has seen staggering growth rising over 70 per cent every month for the last 12 months.

This steep and rapid rise in online orders has taken “increasingly more of our shop partners’ time to manage”, Waitrose said, adding that the new fees were aimed at finding “a fair way of charging for grocery deliveries, reflecting the work that goes into picking, packing and delivering customer orders”.

READ MORE: Online grocery is now as profitable as in-store shopping for the first time

A spokesperson continued: “Waitrose.com is the only grocery retailer not to currently charge for our online deliveries, absorbing the cost into our shop operations. So a charge will not only bring us in line with the rest of the market but will also mean we can continue to offer the best levels of customer service”.

It comes just days after Waitrose announced that it was scrapping its ‘Rapid’ two-hour delivery service so it can “focus solely on (its) Deliveroo partnership”.

Rapid was originally launched across eight London postcodes to offer customers delivery of up to 25 items in 120 minutes, for a flat rate of £5.

While it has continued to expand Rapid’s reach since its launch three years ago, Waitrose partnership with Deliveroo can now offer a faster, cheaper and more widely available service rendering its own brand offering largely redundant.

Last week, Deliveroo and Waitrose announced a new two-year partnership which will see them quadruple the number of stores offering rapid delivery to 110, giving around 13 million customers access to Waitrose goods via Deliveroo.

Historically, grocers have struggled to turn a profit when delivering online orders, but new research from Atrato Capital suggests the pandemic-driven boom has allowed supermarkets to turn a profit for the first time in nearly 20 years.

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Ken Christy
    May 11, 2021 11:34 am

    Is this change a result of someone looking at the actual cost of this service It will be very interesting to see the level they pitch the pricing at. Will specific timing slots be at a premium? Will your spend level play a part? Who will they use as a benchmark?

    Reply
  • Benjamin Male
    May 11, 2021 10:46 pm

    Very hard to expect delivery for free, cost of vans, fuel, staff wages, driver wages etc etc. A delivery charge doesn’t stop me shopping online, who wants to do a food shop in person!

    Reply
  • If this charge is to train the pickers to choose shopping that is not out of date the day after you get your delivery. I’m all for it. During the pandemic I chose Waitrose delivery 4 times for my once a week shop 4 times I had to get refunds on out of date produce. Once I selected lamb it was replaced by pork. This could have had a dreadful affect should religon been a factor. I now shop in store.

    Reply
    • Susan Caddell
      May 12, 2021 7:19 pm

      I have used Waitrose delivery every week since well before lockdown. I have never failed to get a slot as valued customers are given priority. I am surprised that you received out of date produce. It has never happened to me. If short – dated produce is unavoidable then it is offered free of charge rather than disappoint.
      I wonder if Waitrose will have a scale of delivery charges to reward loyal customers.

      Reply
  • Ashleigh Jenkins
    May 13, 2021 8:37 pm

    I have a weekly delivery from Waitrose and food is always out of date the next day or day after. Annoying when salad and veg all need using up with 2 days.
    I’ve complained a few times. I was told to choose a later slot in the day but this has made no difference.

    Reply
  • As a disabled customer I am very disappointed with this. Our store is small and hard to navigate in a wheelchair, so home delivery has always been crucial! Waitrose is otherwise my favourite store. I think living on the Isle of Wight we are being penalised, this charge has not been brought in everywhere. I will be looking at getting most of my shopping elsewhere as I get ‘free’ delivery by using nectar/loyalty points elsewhere.

    Reply
  • Why is waitrose charging for delivery in ‘selected areas’ how are these selected, when slots are in the main empty? Is there still a minimum shopping level charge?
    All very unclear and slots remain unfilled???

    Reply

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