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Weighty investment in will deliver ‘personal touch’ and seamless service

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Waitrose has announced the launch of a new ecommerce platform, costing more than £10m, as its online grocery service, formerly known as Waitrose Direct, becomes next month. The investment will equip the retailer for rapid expansion in ecommerce sales over the next decade, in particular taking on Ocado in the London area. The new Waitrose website is on the Day (CQ5) platform, and has been designed by digital agency Grand Union.

“This investment in our online platform will dramatically enhance the customer experience so that shoppers receive the unrivalled standards of service and the personal touch they associate with our branches,” said Mark Price, Waitrose’s managing director. “With more investment planned, this new platform accelerates our progress as a truly multi-channel retailer.”

The new website launches in the second week of March, promising faster speeds and improved usability. It has been designed to be “contemporary and intuitive” offering a seamless, consistent shopping experience across all of Waitrose’s online channels. These include click and collect, wine, flowers and gift ordering, HomeDirect, and Waitrose Entertaining. Waitrose will continue to be the only major online grocery retailer offering all-year-round free delivery for all orders over £50.

In addition to staples, such as a full range of Essential Waitrose items, and well known branded products, customers will be able to simply and quickly navigate their way around cheese, fish, meat and delicatessen service counters. More delivery slots are being added for the times when customer demand is high, such as Fridays and weekends – and delivery drivers will carry shopping right into the kitchen, if that’s what the customer would like.

There will also be “personal touch” features to replicate the service that customers get in a Waitrose branch, for example they can make specific requests to the personal shopper responsible for picking their shopping. They can opt for specific numbers of items rather than a standard pack size – for example, a single onion needed for a recipe – to cut down on cost and waste. Particular requests such as green bananas or extra-thick slices of ham from the delicatessen counter, will be possible. On February 22 Waitrose will start to email over a million customers to explain the switchover.

Securing affluent Londoners is a key part of the Waitrose growth strategy for online. Until last year Waitrose could not deliver groceries within the M25 as part of an agreement with Ocado. However under a new agreement, signed last May, Waitrose can now deliver to London customers and will start to ramp up its service in the capital.

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