The first deliveries of Marks & Spencer’s groceries will reach customers on Tuesday as its online shopping venture with Ocado begins.
The retailer is belatedly entering the online food shopping sector, which has enjoyed explosive growth during the coronavirus pandemic, by making more than 6,800 products exclusively available through Ocado.
Ocado has added 10 Percy Pig-branded vans to its national fleet and 20,000 packets of the sweets have been ordered by eager customers.
“Taking our full food range online for the first time is transformative,” said Stuart Machin, the managing director of M&S Food. “In preparation for go-live we have listened intently to customers to deliver an even bigger, better range.”
The move takes M&S into direct competition with Waitrose, which has come to the end of a turbulent 20-year relationship as a partner of Ocado, for upper mid-market customers online. The Covid-19 lockdown has supercharged online grocery shopping, doubling its share of the market to 14%.
Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, couldn’t help firing a parting shot at Waitrose. “They [Waitrose] have done an advert saying ‘we’ll take it from here’ or something,” Steiner said in an interview at the weekend. “Well, they can’t take it from here because they don’t have the technology, the infrastructure or the systems.”
Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, is in the process of building its own warehouses and finding delivery partners, and last week announced a 12-week trial with Deliveroo.