On the Saturday just gone, I thought to myself: OK, better get some food in. The cupboards aren’t bare or anything, but my freezer was showing a distinct skew towards “things that go with the main bit of dinner” and away from “things that are the main bit of dinner”, which is a long way of saying: didn’t have any meat. So, off to online shopping!
I sorta alternate between Tesco and Sainsbury’s for grocery shopping; Tesco decided they wouldn’t deliver to the centre of the city for a little while, but they’re back on it now. Anyway, I was rather disillusioned to see that both of them had no delivery slots available for at least a week. It seems that not only are people panic-buying toilet roll, they’re panic-buying everything else too. I don’t want to wait a week. So, have a poke around some of the others… and they’re all the same. Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Iceland… wait a week at least for a delivery. Amazon don’t do proper food in the UK — “Amazon Pantry” basically sells jars of sun-dried tomatoes and things, not actual food — and so I was a little stymied. Hm. What to do? And then I thought of the Co-op. Which turned out to be an enormously pleasant surprise.
Their online shopping thing is rather neat. There is considerably less selection than there is from the big supermarkets, it must be admitted. But the way you order shows quite a lot of thinking about user experience. You go to the Co-op quickshop and… put in your postcode. No signup required. And the delay is close to zero. It’s currently 2pm on Monday, and I fill in my postcode and it tells me that the next available slot is 4pm on Monday. Two hours from now. That’s flat-out impossible everywhere else; the big supermarkets will only have slots starting from tomorrow even in less trying times. You go through and add the things you want to buy and then fill in your card details to pay… and then a chap on a motorbike goes to the Co-op, picks up your order, and drives it to your place. I got a text message1 when the motorbike chap set off, before he’d even got to the Co-op, giving me a URL by which I could track his progress. I got messages as he picked up the shopping and headed for mine. He arrived and gave me the stuff. All done.
It seemed very community-focused, very grass-roots. They don’t do their own deliveries; they use a courier, but a very local one. The stuff’s put into bags by your local Co-op and then delivered directly to you with very little notice. They’re open about the process and what’s going on. It seems so much more personal than the big supermarkets do… which I suppose is the Co-op’s whole shtick in the first place, and it’s commendable that they’ve managed to keep that the case even though they’ve moved online. And while the Co-op is a nationwide organisation, it’s also rather local and community-focused. I’ll be shopping there again; shame on me that I had to be pushed into it this first time.
- the company that they use to be couriers are called Stuart. This was confusing! ↩