Waitrose, John Lewis and M&S consumers fume at online shopping issues

Waitrose suffers a social media and Twitter backlashWaitrose and John Lewis might have enjoyed a bumper Christmas but many of their online shopping customers were left fuming over late Christmas deliveries, substitutions and major delays for click and collect orders. Marks & Spencer’s customers also complained bitterly about “chaos” over food items ordered online for collection during the days immediately preceding Christmas. By comparison, consumers heaped praise on Ocado for meeting tight deadlines, with remarkably few substitutions up to and including Christmas Eve.

Our SpectrumInsight study analysed highly positive and negative emotional content, including happiness, anger, disgust and contempt of real-time tweets covering online deliveries and click and collect services between 14 and 24 December, 2013. Twitter is ideal for gauging public opinion on this issue because users not only reflect the profile of online shoppers but also increasingly use the same devices for both.

Ocado scored the highest, with +6.5%, followed by Sainsbury’s (+4.5%) and Argos (+3%), with Tesco on -4%, John Lewis and Asda on -4.5%, Waitrose on -6% and M&S on -8% (at a confidence level of 95% plus or minus 2.5% overall).

In other words, Waitrose, John Lewis and M&S, in particular, appear to have completely under-estimated online shopping demand during the critical 10 days leading up to Christmas. To say their customers were fuming at being let down at such a critical time would be something of an under-statement, with many threatening never to use them again.

In contrast, Ocado received remarkably few complaints, with the vast majority of their users saying how delighted and impressed they were by the online specialist’s ability to meet tight deadlines, with hardly any substitutions, right up to Christmas.

Retailers will have to plan for much higher online demand during the run-up to Christmas in future years. There’s no doubt that some of the shops in our survey have lost customers because presents, food and drink were delivered late or, in some cases, not at all. Many retailers have simply been caught out by demand for online deliveries and click and collect services, especially as an increasing number of consumers are placing orders closer and closer to Christmas itself.

Mark Westaby is Director of SpectrumInsight. Follow the company on Twitter @spectruminsight.