Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is extending delivery times in a move that will mean it has almost doubled capacity for online grocery orders in just six months.
The company is extending early morning orders by half an hour to 6.30am and by up to an hour in the evening to 11.30pm ‘in most places over the next month’.
Sainsbury’s group ecommerce director Nigel Blunt said it was aiming to hit 700,000 orders a week by the end of October.
Just a click away: The company is extending early morning orders by half an hour to 6.30am and by up to an hour in the evening to 11.30pm ‘in most places over the next month’
Blunt has added almost 200 ‘click and collect’ locations and deployed hundreds of new vans to cope with the surge in demand since the Covid-19 crisis began.
He said the chain has been able to grow the business more rapidly than some of its rivals.
Almost all of Sainsbury’s online delivery and click and collect orders are picked by staff from within stores, with the exception of one warehouse in London.
Its major rivals – Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons – use a mixture of store picking and ‘online only’ warehouses. Marks & Spencer began using Ocado’s automated distribution centres this month, replacing Waitrose.
Blunt oversees more than £6billion of online sales at Sainsbury’s, including Argos. He said: ‘We’ve doubled the size of the business and we see that playing right through Christmas.
‘This is the result of the investment we’ve made in developing our picking from stores model. It shows the flexibility of the model that allows us to sweat the assets that we have, versus that static centralised operation others might have.’
He added that the business regularly considered other models but for now, ‘the core and the heart of the business will remain pick from store which gives us flexibility and growth.’
Blunt said: ‘We’ve been able to redeploy colleagues from other parts of the business into online during the crisis and we’ve been able to add in hundreds of vehicles – and we’re adding on a daily basis.’
He said Sainsbury’s relaunched its delivery pass in August – where customers pay a one-off fee for up to 12 months free delivery. The company saw the sign-up rate more than double, suggesting customers are hunkering down to order more food online over the coming year. During the spring lockdown Sainsbury’s began picking groceries from shelves in its stores at 2am, two hours before it normally would, to cope with the rising demand.
It then introduced another shift for staff in the afternoon to begin collecting groceries for evening orders.
Blunt said: ‘We’re gearing up now across the business to expand further, particularly getting to 700,000 orders a week. We see that as a springboard for serving up a brilliant Christmas for our customers.’