An update from our CEO

Dear Customer,

As you will be aware, the Prime Minister addressed the nation last night, to announce some important and necessary measures in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We currently have around 10 times more demand for our services now than we did before the outbreak began, and with every announcement, we see a further extraordinary surge of customers to No matter how hard we work, we will not have enough capacity to serve the unprecedented levels of demand.  

As I’m sure you will have seen, we took the call to not take any new orders for two days last week, which was an exceptionally difficult decision to make. This didn’t mean we closed for business. Quite the opposite: all delivery slots during this period were sold out, and our colleagues worked tirelessly to deliver groceries to over 80,000 homes. It also gave us the opportunity to make some important changes to the website, changes like freeing up more slots so more customers can get the delivery they need.

The good news is that the site has been up and running again since Saturday. The virtual queue is still there (this is vital to control the flow to and keep the site operating smoothly) but, with patience, existing customers can continue to shop with us and edit orders. 

When we can confirm the availability of personal shoppers and drivers, we will release new delivery slots. These new slots will be released every day for the coming week, as and when we have capacity.

These are some of the other important changes we’ve made to make it fairer for all:

  • Customers can only book one delivery slot every seven days, freeing up more slots for customers.
  • We’re making sure there’s enough for everyone by working closely with suppliers to constantly restock, so all customers get what they’ve ordered each time they shop. To help with fair distribution, some products are limited to one or two per order.
  • We’ve reviewed our range to make sure we have everything you need, but have decided to take out a small number of bulky items which reduce the number of orders we can carry in our vans. 

We know you are worried about your families, and we are doing our utmost to serve as many UK homes as we can. We are already delivering groceries to many elderly and vulnerable individuals, who have long formed a substantial proportion of our customer base. Our support teams and drivers are working tirelessly to identify and support our most vulnerable customers and to make changes to our service so that we can prioritise their immediate needs.

We’re also making suggestions to customers to help us all across the wider community:

  • Sharing: If you know someone who can’t get to the shops, consider adding a few items for them to your order;
  • Caring: Shop considerately by only buying what you need. There’s enough for everyone if we all stick to buying what we usually buy. 
  • Giving: Did you know you can donate food to those in need through Ocado? Just add a You Give We Give voucher to your shop and we will match your donation so our food bank partners get double the value of fresh groceries – an important essential for everyone at the moment.

We will, of course, continue to follow all the latest advice from the Government and the World Health Organisation while the situation develops.   

Finally, I would like to thank our incredible team of drivers and personal shoppers in our warehouses. They have been working around the clock to deliver to as many families as possible.  

Thank you all for your continued understanding and patience.

Melanie Smith


Ocado Retail Ltd

153 thoughts on “An update from our CEO

  1. The landing page says there are some deliveries available. I waited 2 hours and there are none. Can you fix this so if we go to the landing page and it says there are deliveries there are some available to us in our postcode, not somewhere vaguely in the uk? Also, my regular order is showing for tuesday. Will you cancel it again the day before? is it guaranteed? can i edit it or not- there was a rumour that if you touch it, it deletes, which is what seemed to happen to my order last week. OCADO please make some replies to these comments. Over and over again in every way you are showing you do not respond to your regular and loyal customers. Sure, 80,000 people got their orders over the weekend but how many customers do you have? BBC 2019: 296,000 weekly average customers, 791,000 active customers in total. So, how many regular weekly customers have you cancelled(like me). How are you managing making it easy for people to order? How come sainsburys online customers have had no problem at all? DO SOMETHING. Say you can only go onto the website to edit once and the day before. Identify your vulnerable customers- I have been communicated with twice, I have declared the gp said I am selfisolating, but no one has given me vulnerable status, nor was there any suggestion of it. Keep your regular order customers in place and build around them!!!! Let them edit once at the right time!!!!! They are most likely to be dependent on you, for pitys sake, if they have had a regular shop and are unlikely to be customers elsewhere. If Sainsburys can do it you can do it. RESPOND. We have all been making suggestions and pointing out what is going wrong, but clearly no one is listening. Go right ahead, you know best. Your drives and shop pickers are heroes. Your customer staff on the phone always lovely. But the two responses i have had did not give clear instructions that made any sense. Just be direct. If you have decided to cancel all the regular customers TELL US NOW so we can scavenge or get neighbours to help us, not cancel the day before. OK FOLKS, WAIT FOR IT =—THERE WILL BE NO RESONSE TO ANY OF US no matter how many useful suggestions or useful feedback we supply.

    • I agree with you this is a complete shambles and devastating for their reputation amongst loyal customers. Unbelievable – its either completely incompetent or commercially greedy.

      • Probably suffering from being known as the most reliable so everyone trying to use them and all existing customers logging on at once but they REALLY DO NEED TO PUT OUT SOME STATEMENT THAT MATCHES THE CURRENT REALITY. so stop stacking the boxes for a minute and tell us when things might calm down a bit. Some of us can wait if we know that we can get supplies in the future and clear the queue for those who can’t.

    • Hi Diana,
      This is a great reply and covers everything I wanted to say. I only found this letter by searching through Google. The lack of communication from Ocado has been absolutely gobsmacking, as if the entire leadership, PR team and Marketing had gone AWOL all together, particularly considering the communication I get from other brands, the speed they have responded and innovated.

      Ocado call themselves the “Online supermarket”, so they don’t have to deal with physical stores, opening times, checkout staff and all that goes with that. They have a PR nightmare on their hands as people will remember this for a long time to come.

      I even notice that some of the other replies to this thread are published in the future, I’m writing this at 2.40pm on March 25th but other replies are at 3.15pm today, so I don’t know how you can have any confidence in what they are doing!

    • I had a reserved slot every Friday but they have been deleted and after going in the queue no slots are available we are in our 80s and on this 12 wk lock down what do i do.

  2. Some kind of per household waiting list might make sense as well, so it is not a lottery whether you get a slot. Also this would reduce the likelihood of some households getting multiple visits and others none. This would also decrease volume on your site as people would not need to be logging on constantly to check for available slots. In addition if slots are allocated by you (instead of selected by customers) there is potential to increase efficiency and increase the number of deliveries. Given that most people should be at home all day anyway you allocating slots should not be an issue. Obvious exceptions and flexibility could be added for those in essential services e.g. the NHS.

  3. My place has been 2828 since 6.30 this morning although it’s now out of 34000+, as opposed to about 5000 at 6am. Between 6-6.30 I was given some hope, as my position dropped from 5000 ish to 2828 at a rate of about 50-100 every 15 seconds. But since then my place has been static and just more added on to the queue. Will I ever reach the top? Or maybe I should just give up on ocado despite being a regular weekly shopper for 3+ years?

    • I have given up as I clearly won’t get a delivery any time soon. Will take my chances at the 7-8 shopping hour for the elderly & vulnerable at my nearest Waitrose where the staff are so helpful. Can’t get a delivery from them either but at least I can shop. So sorry for all those who can’t get out and had depended on Ocado to see them through in their hour of need. Oh, wait, isn’t Ocado mainly owned by hedge funds? Take the profit and run?

  4. Your queue system is great and I appreciate it may be hours to wait but I have had 2 main issues. Firstly I have been in a queue for hours then my place seems to freeze, no matter how long I leave it, it doesn’t change. The only option then is to refresh which put me to the back of the queue.
    The second issue is eventually when I do get in, which can be many hours, unless I’m am sat at my computer ready to pounce upon login, it puts me to the back of the queue again.

  5. Hi Ocado
    I joined you years ago as I have a back injury and I can’t lift . my Partner is over 70 and I’m a key worker.
    Please prioritise those in need.. every time I spend ages trying to get onto the website, when I eventually do there are no further delivery slots. It would be easier if you could only queue if there were deliveries available in your area within the next month. I only want to book my next one for about 8 days after this one due this week… please don’t cancel!
    I do appreciate your communication and the hard work you do. But sometimes being told you are queue position over 25 thousand and then to find no slots certainly needs looking at.

    • Hi Wendy, we’re sorry to say but due to high demand, we have temporarily suspended the Ocado reserved feature on the website for the time being. Currently, we are seeing a huge increase in demand, whereby demand is outweighing our supply, please do keep an eye on the website as this will be constantly updated. -Ruby

  6. Hey guys…. I’ve got deliveries booked for the next two weeks. I am trying to edit my order for this Sunday, I patiently wait in the queue get through to the website, it immediately crashes giving me an error message and I have to restart the entire process. I have been doing this for 3 days now. I’m a regular customer for 3 years now, this is rather frustrating. I’ve always been happy with the service and selection provided – things I don’t typically see in regular supermarkets. The fact that your website implodes after waiting 4+ hours to get on it is ridiculous, other companies have managed to handle the influx of customers and online orders, why haven’t you!?

    • Thank you for contacting us, we’re sorry to hear this, we’re sorry to hear this, please do try and use another browser or try to clear your online cookies this will help. We are sorry to say but due to high demand, we have temporarily suspended the Ocado reserved feature on the website for the time being. Currently, we are seeing a huge increase in demand, whereby demand is outweighing our supply, apologies again. -Ruby

  7. Is Ocado setting up a system so that people can book their slots without having to wait 4 hours?
    Can Ocado say that whether customers who are already have ocado reserved are keep their existing slots? or are they going to be cancelled like ours were just recently?

    • Thank you for contacting us, we are sorry to say but due to high demand, we have temporarily suspended the Ocado reserved feature on the website for the time being. Currently, we are seeing a huge increase in demand, whereby demand is outweighing our supply, please do keep an eye on the website as this is being updated regularly.

  8. I have used Ocado every week for a fair amount of years because I care for an ill person at home, now that I need your service more than ever I can’t even book a slot!, very disappointed that you aren’t looking after your loyal customers 😦

  9. I have shopped with Ocado for over ten years and have a smart pass. I appreciate the current situation is unprecedented but feel strongly long term customers should have priority. I am 80, my husband is 85. Today, rising at 0615 I managed to get eventually onto the site hoping for a slot. I waited until gone 0900 when I was peremptorily removed from the site. I tried again and after waiting online in a virtual queue for over four hours, with my place not moving I removed myself. I have a trolley full – I just need a slot! If there is no prospect of getting a delivery within the next week, please say so. Just stringing everyone along is not acceptable.

  10. The site is not up and running. The virtual queue does not work. Please can you make it genuinely possible to edit existing imminent orders (nobody I know was able to do this over the weekend), fix the virtual queue and communicate your issues more effectively than this. If you do this I feel reasonable people will make allowances.

    It is a trying time for everyone, and sensible people can recognise the demand for your service is out of the ordinary, but personally I would be appreciative if you also recognised that this is commercially advantageous for you; you are not a charity.

  11. You’re doing some good things in difficult circumstances Ocado, but I can’t help notice that A LOT of offers you have on regular items that are there pretty much there constantly have disappeared? That must have been an executive decision and one that leads to a lot of profit in these difficult times when people are losing their jobs. You are already taking more clients and selling out of stock, so do you really feel the need to squeeze more out at the cost of your regular and new clients that are facing hardship?

  12. Please since we got a letter saying my daughter is extremely vulnerable like shops are giving preference to people who are vulnerable which is great. The problem we face is that we can not leave this house and therefore deliver is out only opinion could you give one slot a day to people where they are extremely vulnerable??? Please consider it. You are doing a great job Thank you

  13. I wonder why you have not given priority to your long-standing loyal customers and whether you have taken on too many new customers for purely commercial reasons. I have been with you for over 10 years but have not been able to get a single delivery in recent weeks. I have a vulnerable, high-risk person at home and hoped I could rely on Ocado as I have been a smart pass member for many, many years. Sadly not. This is not the way to retain loyal customers.

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