Waitrose reveals post-Ocado online plans and appoints digital director

Upmarket grocer Waitrose has announced its plans for life after Ocado – and it involves working with the business run by the co-founder of the online supermarket.

The retailer said it plans to treble the size of its online grocery business to a £1 billion operation over the next three years, working in partnership with Today Development Partners (TDP), a company headed by Jonathan Faiman, founding member and former COO at Ocado, and Mo Gawdat, former chief business officer of Google X.

Current retail director, Ben Stimson, has assumed the new role of digital director with immediate effect, as the grocer looks to continue its online growth in the wake of its partnership with Ocado drawing to an end. Ocado is now forging a strategic partnership with Marks & Spencer (M&S), helping create a food grocery service for the Waitrose rival and selling M&S products via Ocado.com in place of items from Waitrose.

Meanwhile, the TDP partnership is expected to accelerate the development of Waitrose.com through what the two organisations said would be a significant increase in capacity and automation. Working together, they plan three state-of-the-art automated customer fulfilment centres and to use new retail technology to drive service improvements.

Waitrose.com’s service is currently provided through a combination of from-branch deliveries, and through its Coulsdon fulfilment centre which opened in 2015. An already planned second distribution centre is also set to serve the north London area.

Rob Collins, managing director of Waitrose, commented: “Waitrose.com is a popular and efficient home delivery service that is already growing strongly ahead of the market.

“The plans announced today represent a clear commitment to achieve rapid step-change in Waitrose.com’s capacity and capability as we build a modern, well-invested digital business that is fit for the future.”  

He added that the new distribution centres would triple the retailer’s delivery capacity.

In what some might consider a loaded comment, considering his industry history, Faiman noted: “I am more excited about this new venture than anything I’ve done in my career.

“I am delighted and privileged to be back within the John Lewis Partnership family and we will deliver for Waitrose.com customers the world’s best digital home delivery service.”

It emerged earlier this week that Waitrose is extending its ‘While You’re Away’ pilot, which involves delivery drivers allowing themselves into customers' homes while they’re out to fulfil online grocery orders.

Circa 1,000 people are now participating in the trial, which was first announced in October 2018 alongside 100 customers.

The While You’re Away service utilises Yale smart lock technology. Customers can grant access to a Waitrose delivery driver by setting a temporary access code for the lock which is then sent to the supermarket via a mobile app at the point of delivery.

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