Morrisons online retail in the UK is an annoying work in progress

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy February 20, 2017
Morrisons has piled money into its online presence but is it good enough to capture customers. My view? Not a chance.


We have profiled Morrisons the UK's fourth largest retailer on a number of occasions. It hasn't been a pretty story and Morrisions online retail has been under plenty of fire. Last May for example, Stuart Lauchlan quoted CEO David Potts as saying:

The word is spreading that Morrisons are back on form.

Lauchlan tried hard to find silver linings in what was an otherwise lack luster year, noting that e-commerce only added a miserable 1% to year-on-year sales. I think I know why. But then maybe I'm also wrong. Let's look at the evidence I found.

This last week I have been test driving Morrisons online experience. My verdict? Awful. Let's start with location data. Check out this screen grab. Do you agree that it is over the top and perplexing?


Or what about this 'required' confirmation?

Morrisons online

I'm all for secure websites but making me go through repetitive hoops at the beginning of the sign up/on process is off putting in the extreme.

Next, when I get to the check out I am presented with more confusion. Check this:


Then there is the delivery 'feature.' I was attempting to order at around 10am but the best case delivery scenario I could get was mid-afternoon the following day. Check this:

Morrisons online delivery

It's nice that I can choose a time slot etc but this was a Saturday morning and my cupboards were bare. I am used to the Amazon experience in the U.S. where, on certain items, I can get 'stuff' inside a two hour window. Vons will fast track delivery. I could have understood if delivery needed to be much later on a Saturday but this suggested to me that Morrisons online retail  - or rather its logistics - is nowhere near close to 'just in time.'

The bigger problem though is that there is no order and pick up facility - at least not one I can find. Absent of a same day delivery, I would have happily paid a small premium to pick up a bagged order.

Having labored with the site for the thick end of an hour, I gave up and emptied my online trolley. Instead, I took a bus to my nearest Morrisons store and then a cab back with more or less the same stuff I had planned to buy.

So on the one hand, Morrisons online retail tested my loyalty but on the other hand they still got my business. Is that a win for them? Kind of.

As is usual these days, I vented on Facebook about the problem and was surprised to find that colleagues and friends mostly report good experiences from Sainsbury and Tesco but with the more expensive Ocado noted as the favored choice. It was interesting that a good few have been using online ordering for years. So is it me?

My expectations for online services are pretty high. I guess I was spoiled in the U.S. and especially by Amazon Prime. I also count myself as a reasonably sophisticated online shopper yet I found the whole Morrisons on boarding process cumbersome and unwieldy. I can well understand if the company experiences a high abandonment rate.

I wasn't exactly enamored of the offered choices. For example, in the store, I found offers (2 for £3 - that kind of thing) that I never noticed when compiling my list online. I know that recommendation engines can produce annoying experiences but for some items it makes sense for me. When I returned home, I did check and sure enough, there were offers that 'could' have been useful to me.

And as I've noted, the on line check out and delivery options were miserable.

But there is another factor that is missed in many discussions about online retail that also came up in the Facebook conversation thread.

Some people prefer to shop in store because they can see the goods on offer and make better choices. This is likely to be particularly true for products like fish and meat. I definitely see that. I was for example able to point to the exact pieces of fish I wanted and could make visual comparisons of meat on offer among the various meat counters.

Could retailers emulate that experience? I think they could by offering a video connection through to the fish/meat counters for the selected store. That would be an awesome way to enhance the shopping experience, making it truly interactive.

Unfortunately, before any of that can happen, the basics have got to be right. Right now - I have to mark Morrisons as a fail.

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