Waitrose has taken more than 150,000 online orders in a week for the first time, having seen orders more than double since the beginning of the year. The significant milestone comes at a time when the supermarket, part of John Lewis Partnership, is preparing to run its online business on its own after a long-standing partnership with Ocado comes to an end at the beginning of September.
Waitrose.com orders are now delivered from 173 stores, of which 26 deliver more than 1,000 orders a week. A further 21 shops will go live for deliveries by September 1. London orders are also processed by two dedicated online fulfilment centres in Coulsdon and Enfield.
The retailer is to add 150 new quieter and more efficient vans to its fleet but says demand for its online delivery slots is still outstripping supply. Its Waitrose Rapid service, which offers cargo bike delivery of 25 products within two hours via Onthedot, now makes 7,000 deliveries a week, with 40% of slots reserved for vulnerable customers.
Ben Stimson, director of Waitrose.com, said: “The expansion plans we had in place for Waitrose.com have allowed us to respond as best we can to the huge surge in demand in recent months - especially from vulnerable groups who need home delivery services. We’re seeing a fundamental shift to many people’s shopping habits and we’re incredibly proud of how our shops have scaled up our online operations at such speed.”
Grocers have seen demand for online deliveries spike since the onset of Covid-19 as both vulnerable shoppers and others have opted to buy online rather than go to shops during the lockdown. Before Covid-19, ONS figures suggest that 5.4% of grocery retail transactions took place online as recently as February 2020. By April 2020, the most recent figures show, that figure had risen to 9.3%. Now Waitrose is among the retailers expanding their capacity fast in order to meet the sudden growth in demand.