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Service changes: how you’re affected

To all our customers

We have been working extraordinarily hard to serve our customers and are proud that our tremendous frontline colleagues delivered more food last week than we have ever delivered to UK homes before. 

However, we know that many of you are not getting as much access to our deliveries as you would like. I also know from your feedback that we haven’t done a good enough job yet of explaining to our customers what we are doing. We are sorry, and we know how frustrating it must be to not be able to rely on our normal service. Trust us, it isn’t because we don’t want to be delivering more. 

So we wanted to take the time to explain what has been happening and what we are doing. Demand is 10 times higher than normal, web traffic has been up to 100 times higher and enquiries into our contact centre are up 500%. We have delivered more food than ever, despite the levels of staff absence all businesses are currently experiencing. We also closed our doors to all new customers from early March. We have taken extraordinary measures to protect our frontline colleagues, including buying them tests for COVID-19 and guaranteeing them delivery slots. 

Since Coronavirus arrived, practically every one of the nearly 800,000 active customers we had at the end of 2019, no matter how infrequently they may have shopped previously, now wants to place at least one order every week. At the same time, with families at home all week, the average size of orders has grown more than 50% meaning fewer orders can be picked and transported. This is a level of demand several times our current capacity. With these new bigger grocery shops our customers are doing, even running our warehouses 24/7 with new colleagues to support us, we cannot deliver to more than 250,000 homes in any given week.

No matter how hard we work, we simply do not have the capacity right now to meet all the demand we are seeing from existing customers, let alone new ones. 

So, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions. These are unprecedented and exceptional times and we have made some choices that will not be what some people want to hear. But I can promise you that we’ll be really clear about what we’re doing and why. You’re our customers, you mean the world to us, and we want to serve you brilliantly now – yes of course – but also in the future.

We are doing everything we can to deliver to as many homes as possible, and to manage access in the fairest way we can. And so, we are making the following changes: 

  • Prioritising some customers. We have made the call to prioritise deliveries for some of our customers, particularly our customers on the Government’s shield list who are extremely vulnerable and in need of essential supplies, our longest-standing, most loyal customers and our colleagues working on the frontline. You will have received an email if you have been identified as part of this group. For all remaining Ocado customers, those that haven’t received an email about priority access, we will release any remaining next day slots after 4.30pm (beginning Wednesday 15th April). But this time may need to change in the future. Customers should go to ocado.com/coronavirus for the latest information.
  • Government shield list. We will give priority access to our customers who are on the government’s shield list of extremely vulnerable people and in need of essential supplies. If you’re a customer living in England and you (or somebody in your household) are extremely vulnerable, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register onto the government’s list. 
  • Smart Pass refunds. If you are a Smart Pass customer and did not receive an order in March, we are happy to refund your account for this month or donate the money to our food bank charity partners. Please submit the SmartPass Refund form. 
  • Ocado Reserved. We are sorry that we have temporarily suspended Ocado Reserved. We’d have loved to have kept it live, however, the unprecedented demand we are experiencing has disrupted the system which had worked successfully for years. Our teams are working to resolve the issue and restore the service as soon as possible. Until then you will need to book a delivery slot. 
  • Unable to serve new customers. Finally, we are currently unable to serve any new customers and we encourage you to get in touch with your regular supermarket for your current grocery needs. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We are the fastest growing grocery retailer in the UK and our commitment to do a great job for our customers will never waver. We are sorry we cannot do more to support more of our customers at this time. 

And finally, a shout out to our colleagues – drivers, warehouse operatives, contact centre teams – all of whom are working round the clock on the frontline doing an amazing job, we’re very proud of them. 

Stay safe, 

Mel, CEO and all the Ocado Retail family 


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