“Ocado is an incredibly exciting and dynamic business,” stated Claire Fletcher, category manager for the online retailer, addressing BHETA members in one of the association’s exclusive retailer webinars. With15 years’ experience in homewares (buying roles at Harrods, Debenhams and Tesco) and having joined Ocado last year, this is Claire’s “first foray” into online only.
Claire highlighted Ocado’s considerable growth and its enviable Online Grocer of The Year accolades. Moreover, with a “unique model” that equates with high levels of direct interaction with customers, the retailer is much loved by its customers, achieving “99% order accuracy and being 95% on time.”
Ocado aims to significantly grow the business by opening three additional customer fulfilment centres this year. It is also extending its successful partnerships with premium retailers; these already include Harrods, Joules and Harvey Nicholls, with “many others in discussion.”
While Ocado boosts the largest online grocery range, its general merchandise SKUs have decreased in numbers as the retailer has adapted its strategy to focus on particularly significant categories. “We are not looking to be a specialist GM retailer,” Claire emphasised. “We want to continue to be the best grocer and be a point of difference for our customers.”
With “fair value” combined with quality as a priority, Clare explained how Ocado is “a whole baking destination,” with consumers able to shop for flour and ingredients along with bakeware and baking accessories “on the same page.” Grocery search terms can also prompt complementary merchandise suggestions for shoppers, such as steak knives for those purchasing steaks, or jars for those looking at pickled onions. “Customers buying eggs should also be able to buy poach pods and frypans,” Claire notes.
With various promotional opportunities for partner suppliers, Ocado’s home page is “like a gondola end in a grocery store,” offering inspiration for shoppers, while its digital version of the “checkout walk” promotes products that customers may have overlooked. Examples include tea towels and peelers “that frequently need replacing.”
Areas of growth include Cook, Dine – including glasses and dinnerware – Home Fragrance and Utility. “There are so many influencers who are keen on organising the home,” reflects Claire. Thanks to its superlative delivery drivers, the retailer has “no issues” with carrying out the age identified deliveries that will soon be a legal requirement for knives sales, meaning that knives are one area of opportunity under the Cook banner. Claire confirmed that Ocado continues to offer 100% branded kitchenware.
Commenting on the webinar, which attracted a large audience, Will Jones, BHETA chief operating officer said, “Unsurprisingly, this proved an extremely popular event with members. They were rewarded with excellent insights into the Ocado business and some very real opportunities to trade with this growing force in retail and pioneer of the online model. I look forward to following this up with the forthcoming Meet the Buyer event on June 29.”
Top: Ocado prides itself on its friendly service.