A new webshop

As some of you might know, we’ve been hard at work for the last several months on the latest version of our webshop. Internally we call it ‘Webshop 5’, because it’s the fifth major version of our site since the business launched. Many people have been involved, and at this stage I should thank all the very talented people who have been working on it here. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone else who has been involved – suppliers who advised us and let us borrow their rooms with mirrored glass, and all the customers who came in to sit in those mirrored glass rooms to help us out by giving us their opinions. Thank you! Currently a random selection of our customers are shopping on the new site. We’ll be rolling it out to all of our customers soon, once we’ve finished making some of the changes advised by those pioneer shoppers who have sent us feedback (thank you too!), but more of that later…

First things first: why, and what have we done?

Change is hard. It’s always easier to stay the same. But when we looked at our old site, we started to believe that there were fundamental opportunities to improve it – improve the shopping experience for our customers, even given the challenge of learning a new site. We wanted to put more products on the page visible to our customers. Many of you told us that you wanted to be able to look at products as if they were on a shelf, and to take advantage of the full width of modern monitors. The ‘shelf view’ on the site seeks to do just that – enabling you to see a whole range of products easily on the screen at once. (We’ve preserved the old ‘list view’ in an option setting as well.)

You also wanted more options to sort the order of products – and we’ve introduced some of that as well (there should be more to come in the future as well). The next thing we wanted to achieve was to keep the trolley visible on the screen at all times – with the old design as you scrolled down the page you lost sight of the trolley. We’ve now ‘fixed’ the trolley in the header so that even as you move down a page of 100 products and still see what is in your shopping.

We’ve also brought some of the account functions together in one place. You’ll now notice that there is a new home area which groups together a new menu with all of your orders, lists, and other account details and settings. And don’t forget the new ocadolife content and recipes area which we’re really excited about – with lots of great recipes and our magazine in online form.

What happens next?

We released the site to three groups of randomly selected customers earlier this month. We’ve been reading everything you have written to us about the site (apologies that we can’t reply to all of it, but please be aware that we do read and we are listening!), as well as observing all of the relevant indicators (can we see people having problems trying to find things, do the servers stand up to the loads, etc). We’ve also released Christmas delivery times during this process just to complicate things. Whilst we think the site is pretty good, we’ve observed a few things that we haven’t got 100% right. We’ve been working at this for a while, and we didn’t expect to get everything perfect. We’re not going to pretend that there aren’t a few problems, and we’re going to work to fix as many of the minor niggles as possible as quickly as possible (before we let the site fly to the entire customer base). Here are a few of them:

Some of you have been having trouble finding the ‘favourites by category’ feature. We’ve hidden it slightly, so we’re going to make that easier to find in the favourites section. We’d re-used the control that we usually use for toggle between shelf and list view, and it just isn’t clear enough.

We’re going to create an option for smaller images, and an option for less product information on shelf view. This should achieve a couple of things: for those of you on slower download speeds, it should make pages quicker to load (you can set the products per page to a lower number as well which should also help). And for those shopping on laptops or other smaller screens, the ‘less info’ setting should put more products on the page. We’ll signpost both of these clearly at the top of the aisle.

We’ve got rid of a feature that we hadn’t realised anyone used – viewing your trolley by text for the purposes of printing out a list. We’ll put that option back as well.

We’re also going to more clearly signpost the search functionality.

The other part of the site that we’re looking at is the checkout. Some of you write to tell us that you really value the reminders about the products that you may have forgotten and the clear easy steps, others find it too long. Some of you love the new ‘Switch and Save’ feature which helps you find cheaper alternatives to products in your basket – some of you were left a bit cold. We’re looking at ways to speed up the checkout walk – combining screens, making the reminder products more relevant (many of you told us they were a bit ‘hit and miss’), but this is a bit of a longer process than the one described above. We’re going to improve this, we promise. But please be patient with us.

One more thing

We love feedback and we like ideas. Please feel free to write to us at demandmore@mailocado.com and let us know what you think, or send us your ideas. We’ll read every one of them. We believe passionately that we’re creating a new and better way to shop and that we have a lot more still to achieve. We’d love you to be part of that journey with us.

Head of Retail