Waitrose, Iceland and Marks & Spencer have bagged the top slots in a supermarket survey based on customers’ levels of satisfaction when shopping in store and online.
The upmarket grocer topped the “bricks and mortar” table in the annual poll by consumer group Which? for the third year in a row, narrowly beating M&S. Iceland’s home delivery service came top for the second successive year after receiving the highest, five-star customer score.
Which? said Waitrose’s high levels of customer service had won over shoppers. It was the only chain to get five stars for staff availability and helpfulness, boosted by parent company the John Lewis Partnership’s bonus scheme whereby all employees share in the profits.
Waitrose and M&S won plaudits from shoppers for their store appearance and quality of own-label and fresh products. M&S’s “Dine In” offers – a meal for two for £10 including a bottle of wine – also scored highly.
Which? asked more than 7,000 shoppers to rate stores where they had shopped in the previous six months based on factors including appearance, length of queues, ease of finding products and overall quality of fresh foods. For the online ranking, shoppers were asked about relevance of substitutions for products, value for money and delivery service.
The consumer group also asked more than 4,700 people about their experience of using convenience stores, with M&S Simply Food stores coming top and stalwarts Budgens, Nisa and Spar at the bottom.
“With concerns over rising prices, the competition among supermarkets is fiercer than ever,” said Richard Headland, Which? magazine editor. “While value for money remains a top priority, in-store appearance and the availability of quality and fresh products can also go a long way to satisfying shoppers’ needs.”
In the online category, Iceland came top for the second consecutive year, with customers happy with its no substitution policy, convenient delivery slots and friendly drivers. That came despite having just a 2.2% share of the UK supermarket business (according to recent Kantar figures), yet with 17.5% of the frozen food market, second only to Tesco.
In store, Iceland attracts a middling rating of 69%, losing points with customers for the quality of its fresh products and store tidiness and appearance.
But its own-label products were praised, with a clear thumbs-up for its new luxury lines, which include sourdough bread, lobster and sea bass.
Iceland’s joint managing director, Nick Canning, said: “We’re delighted to have our online offering recognised as industry leading in this highly respected Which? survey. It feels like people are finally opening up their eyes to the quality we deliver, and we have much more innovation planned for the year ahead.”
Ocado, the internet-only grocery delivery company, took second spot ahead of other online competitors including Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. German discounters Aldi and Lidl (in store only) shared third place and are the only two supermarkets in the survey to be awarded top marks for value for money.
Of the other large supermarkets, Asda came last below Tesco (eighth) and Sainsbury’s (seventh), which were ranked lower due to the unavailability of many popular products, difficulty finding items and lack of value for money.
Asda came bottom of the in-store table and joint last in the online rankings. The grocer is seen as generally good value but with only average food quality.
“We know that we need to do a better job for our customers and our colleagues are working hard to make a real difference” said an Asda spokesperson.