Ocado customers shared their excitement this morning after receiving their first delivery of Marks and Spencer food as the online supermarket launched its new £750million partnership.
The British High Street retailer officially replaced Waitrose on the Ocado website today, with the delivery company unveiling a fleet of limited-edition Percy Pig vans to mark the occasion.
Dozens of shoppers took to Twitter to share photos of their M&S haul, with one remarking she was enjoying Percy Pigs with her morning coffee.
However, some loyal customers were less than impressed after receiving notifications late last night that their shopping deliveries had been cancelled hours before they were due, and took to Twitter to complain.
Dozens of angry Ocado customers took to Twitter today to complain their orders had been cancelled last minute – on the first day of the online supermarket’s new partnership with Marks and Spencer. Pictured: Ocado unveiled limited-edition Percy Pig vans to mark the occasion
Dozens of shoppers took to Twitter to share photos of their M&S haul, with one remarking she was enjoying Percy Pigs with her morning coffee
One raged: ‘Day one of new Ocado M&S partnership and my delivery has been cancelled a few hours before it was due to be delivered. The delivery has been booked for three weeks and I’ve been with Ocado for over 10 years. Unimpressed.’
Another tweeted: ‘Oh dear @Ocado no school trousers for us… or socks… or tights… been booked for weeks and cancelled at an hour’s notice. Not a great start.’
And one wrote: ‘Didn’t receive my order at all – cancelled 20 mins before delivery again! Shopped with Ocado for over 20 years. Another loyal customer leaving.’
Another claimed Ocado notified a number of its customers after 10pm last night that their deliveries had been cancelled due to a ‘surge in demand’.
In response to one of the negative posts, a spokesperson for Ocado, called Richard, tweeted: ‘We’re so sorry we’ve had to cancel your order. We know this isn’t the level of service you’d normally expect from us and we’ll do all we can to make it up to you. We’ve sent you an SMS and email with a voucher to say sorry.’
Several loyal customers were less than impressed after receiving notifications late last night that their shopping deliveries had been cancelled hours before they were due
Speaking to the BBC, consumer and retail expert Kate Hardcastle said she placed an order for today to test out the new Ocado – and has already had two items cancelled.
‘For each one, they sent me a £5 voucher,’ she said, adding that demonstrated how much pressure M&S and Ocado were under to get their new partnership off to a good start.
Kate acknowledged that expectations are high – especially given it’s taken so long for M&S to join the online grocery market. The company has never had a delivery service before but launched a Deliveroo option to help families in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ocado has been selling Waitrose products since beginning its commercial delivery since back in 2002 – at which point Waitrose did do online deliveries, but on a smaller scale. The retailer claims it can now reach 90 per cent of postcodes in the UK.
The M&S Food range launched on the Ocado website this morning, replacing Waitrose – and was crowned the cheapest out of the two brands, according to Which?.
When the deal between M&S and Ocado was announced in February last year, there were questions about how suitable it would be for family weekly shops.
In response to one of the posts, a spokesperson for Ocado, called Richard, tweeted: ‘We’re so sorry we’ve had to cancel your order. We know this isn’t the level of service you’d normally expect from us and we’ll do all we can to make it up to you. We’ve sent you an SMS and email with a voucher to say sorry’
As part of its tie-up with Ocado, it put 6,000 of its products online, including replacements for the 4,000 Waitrose products previously available through the online supermarket.
M&S dropped prices to undercut its upmarket rival on thousands of items such as tinned tomatoes and organic cucumbers ahead of its tie-up with Ocado, which cost it £750million for a 50 per cent share of the new venture.
M&S has also developed 750 new products, including larger pack sizes, to enable family shoppers to get the same range of products from Ocado as before.
In order to stave off a potential exodus, M&S set up an ‘Ocado readiness’ team and its food development team carried out 42 reviews of its ranges to ensure that it could offer a direct match to Waitrose’s products in terms of their flavour, ingredients, price and size – including a near identical vegetarian pizza and dark Seville marmalade.
As part of its tie-up with Ocado, it put 6,000 of its products online, including replacements for the 4,000 Waitrose products previously available through the online supermarket. Pictured: an Ocado delivery man unloads goods from one of the new Percy Pig branded vans
The product development team said that most of its work has been in replicating the larger packets Waitrose offered to cater to weekly shoppers.
In response, M&S now sells large blocks of cheddar and 450g bags of green beans in additional to the 100g bags of microwavable vegetables it typically sells in stores to appeal to solo dinners looking for a quick evening meal.
The product matching had even gone as far as replicating a mushroom, feta and spinach pizza after Ocado’s customer data showed it was the best selling Waitrose product and that customers would not be satisfied with the M&S chargrilled vegetables alternative. The business has also added 150 organic products and ramped up its vegan ranges.
After comparing the cost of 30 grocery and household items from both firms, Which? found that customers would spend £2.74 less on M&S-branded products than they would for equivalent Waitrose-branded items.
Revealed: 10 M&S and Waitrose products compared by Which?
Mature cheddar 550g
Four chopped tomatoes
Kitchen roll 2 pack
Jumbo cod fish fingers
Olive oil 1 litre
Thick toilet gel 750ml
Toilet tissue 4 pack
Wholemeal bread 800g
Vegetable oil 1 litre
Overall, the M&S basket on Ocado cost £43.84, while Waitrose came in at £46.58.
However, retail analyst Richard Hyman claimed M&S risk trying to ‘please too many people’ and could ‘dilute its core offering’ as a result of the partnership.
‘Old business thinking says, “We must get bigger”… But being big isn’t as beautiful as it used to be,’ he told the BBC.
‘It’s very difficult to make money from selling food online. I’m not sure that anyone does.’
He added: ‘It’s almost as if M&S aspires to be like other food retailers, which strikes me as a big mistake.’
Revealed: The Waitrose-branded items cheaper than the M&S versions
UHT Semi Skimmed Milk (1 litre)
Cheese and onion deli filler (220g)
Frozen blueberries (400g)
Vegetable soup (one tin)
Chunky chips (450g)