Foodie Stuff

Vaguely Food Related Post : Online Grocery Shopping Review


Having lived in London for 2 years without a car and a family of 5 to feed, I’ve had a lot of groceries delivered!  Recently I crossed off the final groceries provider available to me (Ocado) and so I thought it was about time I reviewed them all.  If you are outside the U.K or if you have a car then this post probably won’t be of particular interest to you.  Having a sneaky look at someone else’s groceries is a favourite pastime of mine though (come on, we all do it at the check out or have a sneaky look in the freezer aisle when the trolley’s owner is pre-occupied trying to choose a tub of ice cream) so feel free to stick around for a perve.

Obviously these are my own personal experiences and the quality of food and the service in your area will probably differ slightly from mine.  We are in South-East London if that helps anyone.

Click on the images of my shopping baskets for a closer look.


How have I compared the four?  I built a basket with my shopping list on all 4 website’s.  We’re having friends over on Saturday night so I’ve bought the ingredients to make my Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake and the Strawberry and Whisky Cheesecake (yum!).  The rest is a small-average weekly shop (i.e last week was a large grocery order so this week there’s still a lot of left over veg and pantry items that don’t need re-ordering).  I’ve tried to keep quantities consistent though some websites quote different quantities for a certain weight (i.e how many bananas in 1 kilogram) so there may be a slight margin of error.  Ocado’s milk is a touch smaller than the other three websites.  This only equate’s to 2p more per bottle so it’s not really a deal breaker.

The delivery slot selected for each is the cheapest option on Monday the 25th of June at a convenient time for me (i.e not during the school runs or after 9pm).  I actually got these groceries delivered today (in time for tomorrow night) but since I’d left it until the last-minute I didn’t feel like the few slots that were left available gave a fair view of normal delivery prices.

The wine’s selected are also for Saturday night.  The rule for the wine was: cheap but pretty (get your mind out of the gutter).  Money’s a smidgen tight at the moment but on the other hand I don’t want to crack a bottle of Sainsbury’s own “White Wine” for guests to get sloshed on.  £5 was the limit and if something yummy like the Hardy’s at Sainsbury popped up then all the better!  Honestly the price difference in the wine’s is enough to sway the total’s between ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury so all in all I think they came in about even.  Ocado was significantly more expensive than the other three.

ASDA

Price of Groceries + Delivery: £71.19

The Food:  Slightly higher quality than Tesco’s fruit & veg, meat and pantry items.  I think I prefer ASDA’s range of groceries over Tesco and Sainsbury but I don’t find they take as much care selecting my fruit & veg as Sainsbury

Their Website:  It’s not my favourite of the bunch but it’s functional and hasn’t let me down.  I like that I can sort by price unlike Sainsbury’s website

Delivery Service:  I’ve had better!  The crates my groceries were delivered in weren’t as clean as those from the other 3 retailers.  Also, the delivery drivers weren’t as friendly or well groomed as I’d have liked

General Comments:  The delivery slots are 2 hour windows, all other online groceries have 1 hour windows.  A larger window means waiting around for longer and 2 out of my 3 Deliveries were late.  To be fair, after contacting ASDA about the late delivery they gave me free delivery on my next order

Overall Rating: 2/5

example online shopping basket from asda

Sainsbury’s

Price of Groceries + Delivery:  £70.03

The Food: Great quality on all fresh produce (on par with Ocado and much higher than Tesco and ASDA) and no complaints on Sainsbury’s own brand of pantry and frozen items.  I prefer Sainsbury’s cleaning products and toilet paper too

Their Website:  This is really where Sainsbury falls short.  Stock levels clearly aren’t kept up to date given how many items are substituted in every order I receive.  The last few items added to my basket are frequently lost when my session times out and I have to log back in. The most frustrating quirk is that if I amend my grocery order but miss the deadline to check my basket back out then my order will be cancelled.   All other website’s will send me my original order without the amendments if I run out of time or forget to check my order out.  With other online groceries I feel comfortable logging back on to continue shopping for anything I might have forgotten (i.e spending more money!) with Sainsbury I often just decide to err on the side of caution and leave my order as is, heading down to the corner store for anything I’ve missed

Delivery Service:  Excellent! 5/5 for the customer service and quality of delivery.  They’re always friendly and unlike Tesco and ASDA there are only a handful of drivers in my area so I see the same faces over and over (what can I say, a friendly “how are the kids?” can really make a Stay-at-home-Mum’s day!).  Crates are always clean and the drivers are well presented and professional

General Comments:  Sainsbury are the only one’s that offer free delivery if you spend over a certain amount on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  This particular order wouldn’t have qualified (need a minimum of £100 and this order is for a Monday) but I did that mainly to keep the price comparison fair and not swayed toward Sainsbury.  If it weren’t for the clunky website and a lot of items not being available when they pack my order then I would probably have stuck with Sainsbury exclusively!

Overall Rating: 4/5 (website really let’s them down!)

example online shopping basket from sainsbury

Ocado

Price of Groceries + Delivery:  £79.26

The Food:  I love the range of food from Ocado.  Yes, you pay for the privilege but in a perfect world where funds were endless I’d pay the extra in a heart beat.  I had quite possibly the tastiest pork sausages ever from Ocado and the ingredients were pretty awesomely wholesome too

Their Website: Overall the most enjoyable website to use.  I don’t like how short the time limit to finish your order before you lose your slot is, but on the other hand you can easily check it out half done and then go in and amend it to your little heart’s content.  My favourite part of their website is that there are reviews on products.  Ocado are the only ones brave enough so far to publish reviews and I really appreciate it especially when um’ing and ah’ing over a more expensive item than you’re used to

Delivery Service:  Excellent!  They have mastered the personal touch!  You receive a text the morning of your delivery telling you if any items were unavailable whilst packing your order, they give you the name of your driver and which van he’ll be driving.  Once here they are always super friendly, efficient and well presented (okay so maybe it seems a little odd my obsession with “well presented” delivery driver’s but when you’ve had some right stinkers (and that’s putting it lightly) you value someone who smells nice and doesn’t make you uncomfortable sharing an enclosed hallway with).  I also appreciate them being keen to collect the bags from previous deliveries

General Comments:  The only downside for me is price.  They aren’t as expensive as I previously thought but you really have to shop their specials to get a reasonably priced weekly shop.  I’m also notoriously bad for buying things I don’t necessarily need and Ocado has lots of pretties in plain sight that woo me into buying them.  Great business model but not great for our bank balance!  I noticed a few holes in their product range too (eg. Organic Coconut Oil) but they do have a suggestions button where you can suggest items so I’m sure if there’s a demand they’ll meet it

Overall Rating: 4/5 (Price is kind of a big deal and lack of cheap options in a lot of their range let’s them down)

example online shopping basket from ocado

Tesco

Price of Groceries + Delivery:  £71.04

The Food:  Out of the 4 Tesco’s food would have to be my least favourite.  Their fruit and veg (frozen and fresh), meat and own brand pantry items just aren’t as tasty as the others.  It feels like they should be the cheap option but often their produce is the same price as their competitors just of a lower quality.  We eat a lot of fresh food so maybe they just aren’t geared towards our kind of food

Their Website:  Easy to use and does everything I need it to.  I appreciate the Multi-search option, it makes ordering a full shopping list nice and quick.  It’s not quite as shiny and smooth as Ocado but it’s a close 2nd out of the 4 website’s

Delivery Service:  They run like clockwork!  Almost always on time and they call ahead if they are going to be a little late (one driver was in a small accident and called to let me know he was delayed).  They hire strong guys and obviously insist they use a trolley to cart the crates up the stairs of our building.  This means that once they’ve parked the truck they’ve loaded up the crates and brought them up the stairs in no time.  Delivery drivers aren’t particularly friendly but they are well presented and they’re quick so I can’t complain.  There are very rarely any items that aren’t available, I appreciate not having many substitutions

General Comments:  Whilst the delivery and the website are great, unfortunately the quality of the food is hard to overlook.  Tesco clearly chooses cheap over tasty and it shows in their fruit & veg, frozen foods and meats.  Some items are okay, their sausages are great and so are a lot of their bakery items but overall the food just isn’t as good as others

Overall Rating: 3/5 (The quality of food really let’s them down)

example online shopping basket from tesco

Conclusion:  It’s a toss up between Sainsbury and Ocado for me.  I’ve decided to continue filling a basket on both websites and seeing how big the difference is in the final total.  If Ocado comes within a few pounds of Sainsbury(including delivery) then I would probably order from Ocado knowing I will receive what I ordered and not a handful of substituted items.  Ocado also has the luxury of adding extra items the night before without fear of losing my delivery.  If however there’s a big difference in price like there is here then I would stick with Sainsbury!

The ASDA Price Guarantee is tempting but the quality of the food and the customer service isn’t as high as Sainsbury and Ocado so unless I was very strapped for cash that week then I wouldn’t choose ASDA.

If Ocado was consistently coming out as cheap or just a little more expensive than Sainsbury then it would be worth paying for their Saving Pass which entitles you to free deliveries.

Sainsbury and Tesco both have points programs that I can earn vouchers through, Sainsbury’s food quality is higher so they win hands down there.  The Nectar vouchers wouldn’t be enough to stop me from shopping with Ocado if the price was right.

I’d love to hear other’s experiences with online groceries.  Do the delivery driver’s make a big difference to who you’ll buy through or is price always the winner?  If you buy in store and not online, do you shop at your nearest store or travel a little further for better prices?  

11 thoughts on “Vaguely Food Related Post : Online Grocery Shopping Review”

  1. I generally only use online shopping, due to not having a car, and I wonder now how people survived without it!

    MySupermarket is a great tool for doing online shopping – pick your chosen supermarket and start adding your shopping. It’ll then alert you to any savings to be made by trading down / up, multibuys, if the product’s at it’s lowest price for a year or by switching supermarkets completely & getting delivery from another store, even if it’s just for a few items. Usually cuts about £15 off my weekly shop doing this!!

    great review of the sites, I agree that the ASDA website is horrible to us; it just seems so old fashioned.

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the tip, I’ve just registered with them 🙂 Great idea, I had no idea it existed!

      Yep ASDA and Sainsbury both really need to upgrade their website’s. The sad thing is that Sainsbury recently made a bunch of changes to their website but didn’t fix ANY of the real problems it was all just aesthetics (*sigh*).

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment Melissa!

  2. Wow, you’ve been busy! That took a great deal of time and effort! Kudos girl! I’ve been contacted by companies who supply delivery of groceries when I first had kids. When my first was born, shopping was no problem. He was an exceptionally cooperative child. The second one? Not so much. I did consider having my groceries delivered, but I enjoyed getting out of the house, so I would wait til my husband got home from work. It worked out for the best. Everyone was happy, kids didn’t have to be dragged out to food shop with me and I didn’t have a whiny kid hanging on me!
    In your case, I can see you spending more time GETTING to the store than actually being IN the store to get your groceries. This is definitely the best way to go and have them delivered!
    Our schools have let out for the summer. Do your kids get a “summer vacation”? Or are they in school all year round?

    1. Oh I’m glad you noticed that Irene! lol. I am not very good with photo editing so it probably took me 5 times longer then most people. I had to take like 5 screen shots per basket and then pieced it all together in paint after resizing in Irfanview (yeesh!). Not to mention trying to juggle all those trolley’s to make sure they all had the same items in them! aargh! I’m feeling stressed just thinking about re-creating it, haha.

      Master 11 was always a terror at the shop. When he was 2 I would frequently lose him (he’d do a runner, hide under shelves, hide in the men’s bathroom and he even ran out the shopping centre’s front doors once, heading straight into traffic)! I ended up having to get one of those harnesses that have a lead type thing you put on your wrist, but my goodness did I get some dirty looks! Little did they know it was for his own safety and my sanity (I was pregnant with Master 8 at the time and so run off my feet). We didn’t have a car for the first few years we were married and our city was not designed well for people without their own transport. It was some of the worst experiences of my life. The terror at having lost my 2-year-old AGAIN and him going out of his way to hide from me. Little horror!

      Master 8 was always pretty good as a toddler. He didn’t hit the terrible two’s until he was about 3 and a half, though I think his older brother was just doing the terrorising for both of them. Master 6 can still be a nightmare at the shop (think a 6-year-old boy slamming himself onto the floor in the middle of an aisle kicking his legs whilst yelling and trying to kick at people trying to get by…charming).

      If it’s just me and any one of them, shopping’s okay. It’s when there are two or three of them together that drama ensues. They can’t be within a metre of each other without fighting (just play fighting or real) and I spend my entire time trying to avoid them bumping into other people or breakables on shelves…aargh! I swear by the time we’ve found 5 items I feel like I’ve run a marathon and just want to curl up in the corner of an aisle and take a nap. Not having a car makes it worse because I can’t even go and hide in the car for a breather before making the journey home, instead I have to start lugging it all the way home whilst trying to stop them from killing each other. Boys!

      They do have summer holidays coming up 🙂 Not until the end of July though and then they go back to school in September. Here’s hoping we get some sunny weather for the holidays. Master 6 is going back to Australia for a few weeks to stay with my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law which is wonderful for him (he was so young when we moved that I think he needs more frequent reminders of his extended family then the other two) but I’m very nervous about him flying unaccompanied. Master 8 did the trip two years ago but somehow my “baby” seems so much younger than his brother was!

  3. Oh, and enjoy your guests this weekend! I hope they realize and appreciate the great food they’re about to be served!

    1. Thanks hun 🙂 I’ve made my raspberry and chocolate cheesecake tonight in preparation for tomorrow night (naturally it doesn’t look half as good this time, though I’m sure it will taste yummy and I can just hide a bit of ugly with more chocolate and raspberries on top!). Hopefully my second attempt at the Strawberry and Whisky Cheesecake will turn out tomorrow morning and I can blog it. It’s not the sort of thing I can just whip up once a week to try and perfect the recipe for (not unless we all want to gain 10kg’s in a month that is) so it’s nice to have company to test it on!

      Any big plans for you this weekend? Has it been warm over there? Summer keeps trying to rear its head over here only to be rained out over and over again 😉

  4. I much prefer to online grocery shop, even though I do have a car. I just hate trailing around large supermarkets with the kids in tow, continually asking for things! In fairness, it’s not just the kids, I get tempted to buy stuff we don’t need too. I swap about a fair bit between the different supermarkets too. A couple of comments to add to what you have said:
    – What I like about Asda and Tesco is that if they have to make a substitution, they won’t charge you any more than the price of the original item you ordered, even if it does cost more, whereas Sainsbury’s will charge you the higher price if it’s a higher price (I don’t know about Ocado). I often particularly go for the special offers, and they are often the things that run out first for obvious reasons, and so it’s annoying to end up paying more when the reason I chose it was because it was on offer (yes, I know you can refuse the items at the door, but if it’s something you wanted, then you’re probably going to just take it. I also find that at the door, I haven’t got time to figure out price differences etc!). On the plus side with Sainsbury’s though, like you said, you can get free delivery when over £100 on certain days, and when you have a family you can easily go over £100!
    – Sometimes the choices of substitutions from Asda can be rather strange, like once they didn’t have the toothbrush I ordered, so they substituted toothpaste, another time I ordered hamster food and they substituted rabbit food – I told the guy that I had a hamster, not a rabbit and he stared blankly at me and said “So is that ok then?”, and another time I ordered a…erm…ladies monthly product, and all I can say is that the substitution was quite clearly made by a man!
    – Another good thing with Asda, they also offer an 8 hour deliver slot for much cheaper than the 2 hour slots, obviously there aren’t many days where you can guarantee to be home for the whole 8 hours, but if you know you are going to be, then you can take advantage of that (my Mum does).
    Can you tell that this is a subject I like talking about!

    1. I get annoyed when they substitute an item from a special offer and charge me more too Vanessa (namely the 3 for £10 on meat)! I forgot to mention the no extra charge perk when they substitute your item with Tesco and Asda 🙂 I hear you on just taking the substitutions too…who’s really going to go through their receipt at the door to decide if the replacement item is a no go. Of course we just take it. The only time I’ve refused a substitute was liquid soap for my soap dispenser, they were constantly out of the one I ordered and kept sending this horrid blue antibacterial one that gave me such bad eczema on my hands that they’d bleed within a day or two. It took me 3 “substitutes” before I finally remembered to refuse it!

      I haven’t had any replacements that are quite as funny as yours but the two that stick out in my mind are, mangoes instead of passionfruit (they’re both exotic I guess) and canelloni (the big round pasta) in place of cannellini beans (they sound alike…but somehow I don’t think the pasta would have added anything to my poor vegetable soup that was screaming for beans). It was in a blue bag and clearly a substitute so they hadn’t accidentally grabbed the wrong thing, they’d specifically chosen it! I’ve stopped buying things like hair dye or make-up from any of them as it’s too much of a disaster when they substitute the colour for something completely un-usable on my hair! Fortunately you can choose not to allow substitutes but I always forget.

      I know it’s awful but even with the handy 8 hour slots from Asda I just don’t think I can stand the thought of having another delivery from them. 3 different delivery drivers, three different shades of awful B.O 😦 I’m a fuss pot I know, but even the bags are dirty from the crates they bring them up in so all in all I feel ick buying from there. I do think it’s only our local Asda depot as the Asda deliveries I had when we lived further north were fine.

      It’s a subject I talk about a lot too, drives Mitch mad I’m sure! He arrives home and has to sit through another one of my delivery tales.

      Thanks for sharing, I really do find this stuff interesting (must be a female thing).

    1. Tesco does seem to go out in the lead on price quite often Lilian so probably not a bad choice 🙂 Our only large grocery store within walking distance is a Tesco so maybe I’m just sick of their food and the food from elsewhere just feels a bit more interesting when I order it online.

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