Waitrose Delivers… sort of

I expect great things from Waitrose, so I was shocked to discover their online service feels so bolted on and un-integrated.

We keep running out of food, so my wife suggested we start getting a weekly shop delivered. I checked out the options and found out Waitrose delivered for free in my area, compared to others who charged. Yes, it’s a bit more premium, but we spend less when we plan our meals and order them online.

The job of registering on their site was laughably difficult. I build websites and design services, so I know the pitfalls, but even I was struggling. It kept telling me “YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO USE THIS FACILITY” in large shouty capitals, but no-where did it tell me how to register. If it hadn’t pricked my professional interest, I’d have left. FAIL#1

Finally registered, I started “shopping” for groceries etc. The menu system was chaos. They mixed categories of item eg by colour, or if they had a stone in, or whether they were local or organic. And who’s to say what a “speciality vegetable” is? Apparently a sweet potato is a speciality vegetable. Hmmm. Someone needs some card sorting. FAIL#3

Once I’d finished I went through to checkout and fumbled the card details bit a couple of times, but finally submitted my order. No response – just left me hanging. I nervously clicked again, seriously wondering whether I would end up with two deliveries on my doorstep! Screen reverted to homepage and suddenly my basket was empty. I then had to find my account area to get confirmation the order had been gone through. Didn’t inspire much confidence. FAIL#4

And the delivery itself. On time, and by a lovely courteous lady, as you’d expect from a premium retailer. And the food was great – good quality, with no peculiar stand in products. But… with the bags (and my do they like bags – very small bag-to-product ratio. Hoping they’ll take em back!) came a cardboard pack of “welcome” material. In it were four (!?!) copies of the same waitrose entertaining brochure, a discount voucher for my first shop (erm – this WAS my first shop), two copies of the waitrose food magazine (which is alright if I’m really bored, but two copies???!!). What was all this stuff? What was it supposed to add? FAIL#5

The welcome letter on the front had a 5 point “promise” – all of them related to “delivery”. That’s fine waitrose. But you need to take a look at Ocado (if you’re still talking to them that is). Their promise is about “service”. They recognise that you can’t just bolt a digital interface onto your store, buy some vans and away you go. Digital opens up loads of opportunities to deliver your brand experience in novel and engaging ways. Ocado’s iPhone app is a great example, but only because it’s tied into a properly designed service.

Unfortunately, your WaitroseDeliver service feels like a jumbled mix of services. Like your digital team, print team, store team and deliver drivers all thrashed it out in a couple of days.

The major danger from all this is that you probably think that doing sexy online shopping is a must have addition to your modern brand. But actually it’s currently damaging your brand. You should be proud that I have high expectations of your service. You’ve never failed on that brand promise before. But this experience has left me wondering what’s going on. It’s left me concerned that digital is doing you more harm than good. It’s left me worrying that your competition gets it, but you don’t.

But don’t fret too much. You’re not alone. If you’d like my professional view – take a look here.

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