How to get the best online delivery slot for your groceries with the largest supermarkets

Online shopping sites have been flooded with shoppers vying for the delivery slots on offer as the number of coronavirus cases spirals and more people are forced to quarantine.  

Supermarkets have been on the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic and have been forced to find new ways to reach the millions of people who can no longer visit the shops.

During lockdown, the Government advised more than 1.5 million clinically vulnerable people to stay at home for 12 weeks to shield themselves. Of those, there were thought to be around 400,000 people who don’t have a support network of family and friends to help them get shopping. 

The official shielding period may be over but many of the most vulnerable continue rely on online deliveries to avoid crowded places, including supermarkets.

So what are all the largest supermarkets doing to increase the number of delivery slots? Here’s how many home delivery slots are on offer at each retailer. 

Tesco

Tesco has more than doubled its capacity for home deliveries from around 600,000 slots a week at the beginning of the pandemic, to 1.5 million a week now. 

Britain’s biggest supermarket said it prioritises orders for those who are on its list of 600,000 vulnerable customers.

However, demand for delivery slots continues to be high and availability will vary between areas, a spokesperson warned. Those hoping to secure a slot should expect to book it a few days in advance, particularly in cities.

In April, the supermarket recruited 35,000 new employees, including 2,500 drivers and more than 5,000 pickers. 

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s is also ramping up its online service, with plans to increase the number of weekly orders for home delivery and “click and collect” to 700,000 by the end of October. This is up from 370,000 at the start of April. 

In a bid to reach more shoppers, the supermarket said it is extending delivery times by half an hour in the morning and evening so they run from 6:30am to 11:30pm. These new slots should be available from most stores and will be added over the next month. 

Nigel Blunt, of Sainsbury’s, said customers have adapted to shopping online over the past six months. The store has also added almost 200 new “click and collect” locations and bought more than a 1,000 new vans to deliver food over the colder months. 

It has also been working to prioritise the elderly and vulnerable. If you need help you can contact Sainsbury’s care line on 0800 636 262 or 0800 917 8557.

Asda

Asda now offers more than 720,000 delivery slots a week up from an initial 350,000, with a target of 745,000 by Christmas, according to a spokesperson. 

The slots are released throughout the day and vary from store to store. The supermarket said it is working to prioritise those who have been previously identified as “extremely clinically vulnerable” by the Government. Those who fall into this category can book up to three weeks in advance, while other customers can only see slots up to two weeks ahead.

The group received the list of the most vulnerable from the Government in April and wrote to those who had an email address linked to an Asda customer account. 

Morrisons

Morrisons has been making more delivery slots available for customers through its website and through its store on Amazon Prime, a paid-for service that also give access to music, films and TV series.

For vulnerable and elderly people, the supermarket has set up a customer call centre for orders to be taken over the phone called “doorstep deliveries”. 

In order to simplify the process, the company has a range of food parcels, including ones for vegetarians, that can be delivered. Customers can sign up for weekly, fortnightly or monthly deliveries of food boxes, which means they will receive the deliveries without having to secure a slot. 

Waitrose

Waitrose has trebled the amount of slots on offer since the start of the year, from 60,000 to 180,000, at least a quarter of which are reserved for vulnerable customers. Four in 10 slots are also set aside for its “rapid service” which guarantees a delivery within two hours of ordering. 

In spring, the company contacted all registered customers over the age of 70 who have an online account and a Partnership card. Those on the Government’s vulnerable list can see slots 25 days in advance, compared to the standard 15-day window for other customers. 

Availability of delivery slots varies by shop but anyone struggling to book a slot could try booking a collection slot instead, to pick up your ready-picked shopping at the store. Many of the stores now do this as a drive through service from the car park, a spokesperson said.

Iceland

Iceland has recruited more than 3,000 new drivers this year in response to the high demand during the pandemic. The supermarket has increased the number of home delivery slots by 300pc this year, now offering 750,000 slots per week, which can be booked up to six days in advance. 

The company has continued to offer priority delivery slots to vulnerable customers on the various Government shielded lists and to those who have been identified by charities and local authorities. 

Iceland partnered with online delivery application UberEats to deliver its groceries within 20 minutes for London customers.

Ocado

Ocado currently has 350,000 home delivery slots a week available via its website.

The online grocer dropped its partnership with Waitrose in September after two decades in favour of Marks and Spencer’s food business.

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