Ocado is an online-only grocer – the only company in the annual Which? supermarkets survey not to have any bricks-and-mortar stores.
The retailer was founded in 2000, and today its delivery area covers more than 70% of UK households. But is it any good?
In our latest supermarkets survey, 825 Ocado customers rated the retailer on everything from delivery slots and drivers to the quality of its food and value for money. This enabled us to work out star ratings for different factors as well as an overall customer score.
Ocado review: is Ocado the UK's best online supermarket?
How Ocado works
Ocado is the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket, and also the UK’s fastest-growing grocer, with sales rising by 12.5% year-on-year according to figures released by market analysts Kantar Worldpanel in January 2020.
The retailer was founded in 2000, and today its delivery area covers more than 70% of UK households.
Having been set up as an online-only grocer right from the get-go arguably gives Ocado a technological edge over its competitors - and these days the UK’s only purely online supermarket uses robots to pick and pack people’s shopping.
Designed to mimic the human hand, the bots whizz around on gridded tracks and use their grippers to collect the items in your order. They know the weight, size and shape of different products, and are programmed to put heavy items at the bottom, meaning less chance of your bottles and cans squashing your fruit and bread.
Ocado operates exclusively from four large warehouses and 16 smaller 'spokes'. Ocado claims that being able to avoid using stores, where other pesky shoppers might buy the items you ordered online, makes the supply chain shorter and more tightly controlled.
Fresh food often comes into Ocado's warehouses on the same day it goes out to customers. This, the supermarket claims, results in less food waste and fewer substitutions than you would get from competitors. Not having to fit everything into a store also enables Ocado to offer a greater breadth of products and experiment with smaller, niche brands.
What's next for Ocado?
Another part of its business model is selling its tech to rivals - in fact, Ocado is now one of the UK’s most valuable tech firms. And there's more innovation to come, with boss Tim Steiner revealing that driverless technology could be next on Ocado’s techy to-do list.
But it's not all good news. In February 2019 a fire broke out at its Andover warehouse, causing substantial damage. The site was responsible for roughly 10% of produce for deliveries, with more than 30,000 orders processed there each week. Ocado warned that there could be an effect on its ability to meet customer demand as it seeks other routes for fulfilment.