Ocado: Customer Responsiveness & Innovation
The online supermarket Ocado has put customer care at the heart of its strategy. One key project has been to introduce the Orlo technology platform – also used by Iceland and Laura Ashley, among others – which integrates social media and live chat management so that the online grocer can move easily between communication channels when talking to customers, while at the same time, allowing Ocado to retain linked records of all conversations.
Ocado’s stated objective is to provide its customers with improved customer care as one more way of delivering a better overall shopping experience. It’s been four years since Ocado launched its social media channels, with web chat launching in 2015. Since the business is online-only, Ocado wants its experience to be as easy as possible for users. With improved integration using Orlo, the hope is that the customer service team is now more responsive, regardless of the service channel, as well as being more joined-up in how it operates.
The latest statistics from Ocado show that its average customer basket has a value of £108.18, which is 0.2% down on the same time last year. It has responded by introducing new ways to helps customers shop, including its ‘Regulars’ feature, which saves shopping time while maintaining the size of baskets. Its customers also continue to migrate towards ordering via mobile phone. While this does tend to mean that baskets are slightly smaller, it also means that they tend to be more frequent.
Ocado places emphasis on delivery punctuality and order accuracy in order to deliver on its customer promise. These key metrics are backed up by its four robotic warehouses, which use its own cutting-edge picking technology that it is also now selling to other retailers. Ocado’s Erith customer fulfilment centre, which opened in summer 2018, will be the largest online grocery automated warehouse in the world when it reaches full capacity.
In 2017, Ocado also launched the UK’s first trial of autonomous grocery deliveries – in Woolwich in south east London – and got a positive customer response. Its small vehicle was developed by Oxford-based Oxbotica and it spent ten days delivering food and snacks to customers as part of Ocado’s plug-and-play online shopping business offer.
The driverless pod tested in London was small – it held only eight boxes for customer deliveries – and staffed by a driver, who monitored its performance and intervened when required. The trial also required recipients to leave their front doors to pick up their shopping. It worked by the customer being notified when the CargoPod was loaded up from a ‘mobile warehouse’, located around a mile from the customer’s home. A second notification was sent as it reached their front door and the customer then pressed a button to unlock their box from within the pod.