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published 21/10/2001 | Connoisseur_Haggler1
Member since : 30/09/2000
Reviews : 156
Members who trust : 673
About me :
Pro bright clear website, punctual delivery, can still earn Reward card points
Cons site is very slow, technical problems adding/removing items, cannot leave notes i.e "pick firm tomatoes", delivery slots need to be expanded, £5 delivery charge
very helpful

"Sainsburys to You but NOT for Me"

After recently enjoying a successful online supermarket shopping experience with Tesco; in the height of laziness, I decided to place an order with Sainsbury’s online at; Being a regular ‘in Store’; offline Sainsbury’s shopper and familiar with the brand, I thought it would not be too difficult; but as far as ordering from an e-tailer website goes; the site leaves a lot to be desired, so whilst it may be for ‘You’ its not for ‘Me’.

Although there are quite a few 5-star rated Sainsbury’s reviews around which perhaps have touched on the novelty factor of having food delivered to your door-step, but as food is a necessity and not just a luxury; (such as ordering a CD or shampoo), the website has to be efficient too. Therefore, the purpose of this opinion will be to analyse and highlight any potential pitfalls with the website and also to offer comparison with the leading competition; e.g.; who seem to be the current field leaders in this sector. At the end of each section, I will award a rating (1-5) to Sainsbury’s based on current and past experience.

I had looked at Sainsbury’s website a few months ago and again more recently when I was writing an opinion on Tesco’s online website, for some general comparison. The reason why I had not ordered previously was simple; the website was too slow to load for my liking. However, recently I was invited to place an order with Sainsbury’s with the incentive of free delivery; i.e. no £5 delivery charge, so I had nothing to lose (except time! –will explain later).

There are basically two main factors to consider when choosing an online supermarket e-tailer;
1) How well designed and functional is the website?
2) How efficient will the personal shopping and delivery be to your home?
Taking the first point; the website is universal to all UK Users, whilst the second point will vary and be reflective of your local Home Store.


Before you decide to register with the website; you should check whether Sainsbury’s online will deliver to your area by entering your postcode. If they do, then Voila! You will get a message saying you can start home shopping with the standard delivery charge of £5. You can then proceed to Registration or continue to explore the shopping website. There is no need to register to explore the site. If however, you like what you see then Registration is a simple process and literally takes 2 minutes. The usual questions of address, name, telephone numbers, date of birth, e-mail address etc are required, plus if you were sent a special Code or voucher (like me! - For free delivery) don’t forget to enter it under reference or say where you heard about Sainsbury’s online, e.g. on the internet - Ciao! You must choose a password (minimum 6 letters). If you have a Sainsbury’s Reward card you enter the number, if not you can apply for one. The Sainsbury’s Reward Card is just like any Store loyalty card which rewards its customers with points which can later be redeemed as money off towards future purchases at Sainsbury’s or even converted to air miles. And that’s it –Simple! Within a few minutes you are sent an e-mail confirming your details of your User name, which is just your e-mail address. Now you are ready to Shop!

My verdict:-

Both websites allowed easy registration.
Sainsbury’s – 5/5
Tesco – 5/5


First impressions ~

On first impressions Sainsbury’s website appears bright, clear and inviting, using traditional white background and orange colours, the lines are clean cut and the image sophisticated. Tesco’s website colours on the other hand are in blue and red and looks slightly cluttered due to too many items some in small font.

Sainsbury’s –5/5
Tesco –4/5

Navigation ~

As mentioned on first impressions the site is very clear and uncluttered. As soon as you log in using your User name you have the choice of choosing your delivery time, even before you’ve started shopping! This will ensure you get the slot of your choice or you can do your shopping first and then choose a delivery slot. My advice is to secure your delivery slot first, provided you can finish your shopping in the given time and proceed to check-out.

To start your shopping you have 3 options:

Quick Start
Your Usual
Aisles and Shelves

‘Quick start’ allows you to get started quickly; its like a notepad where you jot down the items you want, and click on ‘Find’ and you will be displayed a list of aisles where the items are found. I choose this option and typed in a few common items such as cornflakes, onions, milk etc, and it gave me very accurate results. If you are looking for a particular brand e.g. Kellogg’s then please do type in Kellogg’s cornflakes, otherwise the displayed list of cornflakes will be endless, starting with the Store’s (Sainsbury’s) own brand of cornflakes first!

‘Your Usual’ remembers the items you order the most, i.e. from your last shopping session. If it is your first shopping then this section will be blank. ‘Aisles and Shelves’ takes you to the whole Sainsbury’s Store showing sub departments on the left hand panel (just like Tesco’s site). On the left panel, you will see a list such as Baby, Breakfast Cereals, Delicatessen, Bakery, and so forth. Choose the category you are interested in; for example, Bakery is further divided into Brown bread, Rye bread, White bread, wholemeal bread, croissants etc, etc.
Although the options are clear at Sainsbury’s, one feature I particularly like is the basket visibility that’s situated on the top right hand panel is much clearer than Tesco’s basket; which appears squashed down at bottom left hand corner. Overall, Tesco has far more features with lists of special offers on first page, as well as price checks, price cuts, plus many features that are more functional.

Sainsbury’s –3/5
Tesco –4/5

Adding and removing Items to Basket ~

Once you have found the items you want you add them to your basket, by clicking on plus (+) and then click on ‘add’, so it is a 2-stage process. If you wish to remove an item you must click on minus (-) and then click on ‘update trolley’. This is where Sainsbury’s website fails badly; it takes ages for page to refresh after quantity has been added or amended, and many times throughout my ordering process I got timed-out.
Although Tesco’s site uses the same principle of adding and then updating, the page refreshes much faster.

Sainsbury’s - 1/5
Tesco’s – 4/5

Ordering Loose Fruit/Vegetables ~

Ordering loose fruit and vegetables was always a concern of mine. At Sainsbury’s for example if you want to order some loose apples, you have to enter the weight e.g.1Kg of apples. The only other selection criteria you have available are small, medium, and large. I ordered 0.5 Kg medium apples. For bananas, there is a selection of ripe and unripe. I also ordered 0.6Kg of tomatoes (just to be awkward!) and I did get 0.6Kg delivered, well as near too! At Tesco, on the otherhand you can leave notes, e.g. “pick firm, unripe tomatoes”; or "make sure apples have no bruises", at Sainsbury’s there is no facility to do so. So, some of my tomatoes were soft!
Verdict: Tesco offers a more personal service.

Sainsbury’s 2/5
Tesco –4/5

Technical Difficulties ~

I had enormous difficulties trying to navigate around the site. I started my shopping at 5.45pm on a Thursday evening and chose a delivery slot for Friday, between 5-7p.m. I had till 8.50pm to proceed to check-out to ensure my selected delivery time. I spent 3 hours trying to order and still couldn’t complete, mainly due to pages not refreshing. As a result of technical difficulties I lost my delivery slot, I eventually completed my order late on Thursday almost approaching midnight and Sainsbury’s could only offer an earliest Delivery time of Saturday 20 October. After spending well over 3 hours trying to order and phoning technical help I lost 2 days of Delivery time.

As I was facing technical difficulties, I phoned Sainsbury’s technical support; who were not much help. They suggested I delete my temporary internet files. My major concern was I use many e-tailer sites, adding and removing items including Tesco’s site why did I incur these problems only with Sainsbury’s? It was not clear which version of Internet Explorer works best with their site either, e.g. Tesco claim I.E ver 5.5 worked best with their site. When shopping for the first time on any supermarket website please allow plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the site and products.

Sainsbury’s –1/5
Tesco –3/5

Security ~

Payment can be made using Switch, Solo or credit card (MasterCard, Visa and even American Express). The Sainsbury’s site uses 128 bit Secure Socket Layer encryption, so you can be assured your transactions are protected. This ensures your data is only accepted via a secure connection. Again if you feel unsure about entering your credit card details on the website you can phone the Customer Services and give your card details over the phone. One thing I didn’t like about Sainsbury’s site it remembers your credit card details (though it’s encrypted) whereas with Tesco there is a choice of whether to save the credit card details in its memory. So, in theory if anyone knows your password on Sainsbury’s website they could place an order; as there will be no need to re-enter new card details!!

Sainsbury’s – 4/5
Tesco –5/5


Without a doubt Sainsbury’s is much more expensive than other leading supermarkets for branded goods, as well as many items e.g. Fresh fruit juice Example – 1 litre Apple & Mango Fresh Fruit Juice Sainsbury’s =£1.89, Tesco £1.58 (and both taste the same!)

Sainsbury’s – 3/5
Tesco -5/5


Choice of delivery slots ~

The delivery slots available at Sainsbury’s are limited; they offer only a choice of 6 delivery slots in 2-hour intervals, with the earliest one at 9-11a.m, and the latest one at 7-9p.m. However, I am not sure whether this choice of delivery times is subject to local areas or if more than 6 times are available in different areas. Tesco, on the other hand offers 14 delivery slots, earliest one starting at 8-10.a.m and latest one at 8-10p.m.

Sainsbury’s - 3/5
Tesco – 4/5

Punctuality ~ (delivery slot 1-3p.m)

So, did Sainsbury’s adhere to the delivery time? Well, yes they did, in fact they were 5 mins early! I received my shopping at 5 minutes before 1p.m. Tesco’s on the other hand were an hour late, though they did phone in advance to let me know about and to ask if it’s be ok.

So for once Sainsbury’s scores higher than Tesco!!
Sainsbury’s –5/5
Tesco – 4/5

Selection of fruit & Packing of shopping ~

The shopping arrived in a delightful white chilled ‘SainsburystoYou’ van, carefully packed with chilled foods kept separate from shelf items and detergents. Any items that had been substituted were shown to me beforehand, and you have the right to decline them if they are not suitable. The substituted items had a red sticker on the carrier bag so I could easily identify them. The loose fruit and vegetables were not as carefully selected and packed as Tesco had done, some fell loose in the plastic bag, as the bag had not been tied after weighing. My apples were a bit bruised, and some of the tomatoes were too soft. The rest of the items were all fine. Again this is what I call a "variable" factor of the service that will vary from shop to shop depending on who was your personal shopper that that chose and packed your shopping.

You get a normal till receipt showing you what items have been bought. There is also a separate paper showing any substitutions. With Tesco, you also get a normal till receipt plus an A4 complete print out of your order showing your request. You earn Reward points as normal on online purchases.

Sainsbury's - 4/5
Tesco - 5/5


Overall, after analysing the entire process, I have to say although Sainsbury’s has made some improvements regarding the time taken for the shop to load, it still takes far too long to order and it lacks the personal touch that Tesco seems to have. I will still continue to shop at Sainsbury’s, though it will be offline at the moment. So far only Tesco seems to be up to scratch in the world of supermarket e-tailers. I would still recommend you take a look at the site; as sites are always changing and improving, even though I wont be using the site. The overall rating I can give, taking an average of each individual component to Sainsbury’s is a 3 star rating. So, Sainsbury’s to You is not quite Sainsbury’s for Me, maybe in the future.

Connoisseur_haggler© ciao 2001

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Comments on this review

  • jasonmymail published 26/06/2004
    Although it's been a while since you wrote that review is still pretty accurate two and a bit years later - not much of an improvement by Sainsburys apart from their website loading a bit better. I broke my leg a few weeks ago and have been forced to shop online as my partner doesn't drive. Like you Sainsburys is usually my preferred supermarket so I thought I'd give their online service a go as I know their produce. Sainsbury's were a nightmare - ordered £125 of shopping and they only delivered £80 worth - more than 1/3rd out of stock and they didn't even bother to subsitute where they couldn't supply - other than a ridiculous subsitution of 1 small pack of skips crisps where I'd ordered a 12 multipack - ridiculous and shameful! I complained and they gave me a £10 credit off my next order but I won't use them again, pointless if you end up having to go out and shop for half the goods that weren't delivered. Add to that the fact that I'm physically unable to venture out at the moment I just can't afford to risk Sainsbury's unreliable approach to their online customers. Tesco on the other hand a much better experience - the site is still sort of old fashioned looking but much more user friendly and the ability to specify substitions for each item as well as make notes on the ripeness of fruit makes Tesco a clear winner. A great review - very comprehensive and it was excellent having the comparison between the two major retailler's - just wished I'd read it before I wasted my time with Sainsbury's to you.
  • father_jack published 29/05/2002
    Good op- but I think I must be lucky! I cannot fault Sainsburystoyou! I found the site fast and easy to use, the delivery can exactly when it said it would and the only substitutions were appropriate. I also found customer support good- maybe they're getting better!
  • mortimus published 04/05/2002
    I liked your piece as I thought recently of using this site. Have to remember this example if I ever do a piece about websites :)
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Online Supermarkets, Web Marketplace

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Listed on Ciao since: 08/07/2000