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Brand Prix, Features

Waitrose vs. Sainsbury’s: I’m All Lost in the Supermarket

Welcome to Brand Prix #8, we determined whether these brands' on-line buying experience is smooth like a clean aisle or bumpy like a 3-wheel shopping cart

Matan Block Temin
December 19 2019

Welcome to our 8th Brand Prix, where instead of only investigating the companies’ CRM, we’re picking items from the shelves and checking out the customer experience in a more wholesome way – as we compare supermarkets.

Straightaway, a disclaimer: the vast product varieties and high-frequency purchase rates make executing personalization a massive challenge.

But first, a quick reminder of what Brand Prix is all about (and another kind reminder to check out past editions): Adidas vs. NikeTarget vs. WalmartBanana Republic vs. J.Crew, Gap vs. Zara, Groupon vs. Living Social, Sunglass Hut vs. Warby Parker, and Brooklinen vs. Parachute.

Introduction

In this series, PostFunnel will follow two competing brands to assess their customer marketing performance. For each case study, we’ll enact a customer journey with the respective brands, documenting every customer interaction that was sent to our testers and give professional inputs and insights from our experience with the brands.

The Companies

This round, we compared two of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains: The slightly more upscale Waitrose, and the grocery for all kinds of buyers, Sainsbury’s.

Founded on two opposite ends of London, Waitrose (named after founders Wallace Waite and Arthur Rose), with its about 330 locations, has been around since 1904, which makes it 35 years younger than Sainsbury’s, that operates more than 2000 stores.

And now – let’s start shopping.

Methodology

We have split the analysis into 7 pillars: personalization, promotions and offers, loyalty programs, and “other”, along with three user experience categories: create account and placing first order, delivery, and in-store. See below what we have discovered as we filled up our carts and pantries.

Personalization

Waitrose
Re-targeted us on social media, but without any connection to our browsing activity. We also did not receive any marketing emails after our first purchase. Overall, very minimal to no personalization, and surprisingly – zero ongoing communication with us as clients. Score: 2/10

Sainsbury’s
With a Dietary Profile on the right-hand side of the homepage and a cool feature in the form of the option to “import your favorites” from other supermarkets, there’s clearly an effort to personalize the purchasing experience through addons/features. Although when it comes to emails, social media, and other content, there was no such effort we could notice. Score: 3.5/10

Promotions and Offers

Waitrose
It seems they don’t believe in offers and discounts after the first purchase. I saw no offers past this milestone. I did like, however, that they allow customers to choose between 20£ off first shop or 60£ off + free delivery on the next 3 shops. That sounds like another 2.0/10 to us.

Sainsbury’s
They had no offers for first purchase, although once signing up and creating a “nectar account”, the communication was consistent with 1-2 emails per week, which leverages the relationship they have with strong brands such as eBay, Argos, Expedia, and others. The offers were mostly different ways to get Nectar points that customers can later redeem for cash. The generic offers weren’t connected to browsing or purchasing activity, which is why they earn the following score of 6.5/10, and not higher.

Loyalty Program

Waitrose
MyWaitrose was promoted from first purchase and had a quick and easy process. Once signing up, though, there weren’t any benefits of remaining in the program, so they only get a score of 4/10.

Sainsbury’s
I was never prompted to join it, and the sign-up was quite long with lots of steps. It redirected to the Nectar website, where I then had to go back to the Sainsbury’s site to add my nectar card to my account – they don’t sync it automatically, a weird inconvenience for advanced marketing. And the welcome email went to my “promotions” tab in Gmail.

Still, once registered, you can see the value and you feel part of a program and community. Which help their final score a bit up to 6/10.

User Experience – Creating an Account

Waitrose
I couldn’t add any items to my cart without signing-up, but I liked the smooth checkout experience. They let you edit your order until 11:00 pm – an incredibly useful feature. The fact I received no email after I abandoned the cart cost them points here, at least the items were still in the cart when I returned to the site. Overall, a deserving 8/10 here.

Sainsbury’s
At no point (after shopping online for about 30 min) did they prompt me to create an account, so before checking out, I clicked “register.” And only after entering my email, they asked for my zip code to check if they deliver to me. The checkout process was too long, I was also asked to choose a delivery slot and the price of delivery increased. Cut off time for edits is also 11 pm the day before, but this was only mentioned on the order confirmation email. They too will not email you about an abandoned cart. That’s a 4/10.

User Experience – Delivery

Waitrose
Delivery was on time – even got here a few minutes early! A text message reminder a day before delivery in case I wanted to edit items and one reminder on deliver day provided perfect balance. No substitutes and they even offered a bag-free option (being environmentally friendly always earns extra points). The only downside is the minimum £60 order. That’s enough for a 7.5/10.

Sainsbury’s
Not good, mainly due to events on delivery day. Positives: no minimum order amount, reminders prior to delivery. Negatives: the driver was late (30 min), substitutes were decided without approval, substitutes emails started at 5 am, just three hours before delivery. That’s a 6/10, tops.

User Experience – In-Store

Waitrose
I wanted to return an item and went straight to the returns counter where they told me that I couldn’t return something I bought online because they may not hold the same stock in store. When I referenced their returns policy (stating otherwise), they agreed. From there, service was courteous and quick. They refunded my credit card. 6/10.

Sainsbury’s
I waited about two minutes and was immediately refunded – no questions asked. They refunded my credit card and gave me a receipt. An easy and pain-free process. The fact that they have so many locations across London also makes returning easier. 8.5/10.

Other (no score here)

Waitrose
Offers a recipes section, but have no option to purchase ingredients automatically.

Sainsbury’s
There’s an option to buy recipe ingredients at the click of a button. Once you add to cart, you can choose three different “basket tiers” cheapest, standard, and premium. The overhauled Nectar programme and its shift to digital is a winner.

The Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an online day-to-day supermarket, I would opt for Sainsbury’s. They may have a  lot to improve on the operational side (both digital and delivery), but it looks like they are heading in the right direction when it comes to improving their product and user experience, mainly by launching their new app and partnerships. I’d think of Sainsbury’s as a customer-centric brand, while Waitrose is its conservative product-centric cousin.

That said, when it comes to personalization and surfacing the endless amount of customer data both brands collect, both brands have a huge opportunity at their feet.

Final scores, below:

Think we got it right? Or should we have picked another winner? Leave your comments below and tell us what you think, or join the discussion on Twitter and Facebook by using the #BrandPrix hashtag.

Contributor: Shani Kupershmidt

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Matan Block Temin

Matan Block Temin leads the Strategic Services team at Optimove’s UK office. As an experienced marketing data scientist, Matan has led some of Optimove’s biggest projects in the gaming industry while working closely with CRM executives on optimizing retention marketing programs, analyzing their customer data and revealing actionable, data-driven marketing insights. Matan holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Tel Aviv University.

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