The first day of Ocado’s partnership with M&S got off to a bumpy start, with the retailer forced to apologise after a “surge in demand” led to a string of customer orders being cancelled.
Ocado admitted a “small number” of customer orders were cancelled on Tuesday, while customers trying to order later in the week complained of stock shortages for dairy and fresh vegetables.
“My order due 2pm tomorrow has been cancelled,” wrote one Twitter user. “I booked the slot over 10 days ago. I have been an Ocado customer for 10 years. Day 1 of M&S and I want to know how I can cancel my membership.”
Tuesday marked the first day of Ocado selling M&S food online, in a deal announced last year that ousted Waitrose from the site after a 20-year partnership.
It is the first time the full range of M&S food and drink has been available to buy online, and a spokesperson for Ocado blamed high demand for the disruption to deliveries.
“The M&S launch has been incredibly popular,” they said in a statement. “We have seen a surge in demand for M&S products in the run up to launch which has impacted a very small number of orders today.”
“The vast majority of customers are unaffected and will be delivered as normal,” they added. “We would like to thank our customers for giving M&S such a big welcome and sincere apologies to any customers having to wait a bit longer.”
The shake-up at the top end of the UK grocery market means middle class consumers now face a stark choice: stick with Ocado and switch to M&S produce, or leave Ocado and follow Waitrose to its in-house online service.
Over the last few months M&S has used Ocado customer data to expand its product range and has launched a new basics range, in a bid to match Waitrose’s offer on the platform and convince customers to stay.
Meanwhile Waitrose boss James Bailey has said the split with Ocado is a “big opportunity” for Waitrose to grow its online business. “The message to customers is that our website is the only place to get our high-quality products, our Duchy Originals and the range they want,” he said.