- Waitrose is a grocery chain in the UK. It was recently ranked first on a list of seven chains, including well-known stores Tesco and Sainsbury’s, in a survey done by Market Force Information in May 2018.
- 4,300 consumers were surveyed for the report and asked questions about their experiences shopping in these stores.
- Here’s what it is like to shop at Waitrose.
The UK grocery wars are heating up as Aldi and Lidl continue to grow rapidly and take market share, working their way up the ranks to become the fifth and seventh largest grocery chains, respectively. Now they have their sights set on the US.
Waitrose, the posh UK grocery chain that is beloved by Kate Middleton and is said to boost property prices when it opens in new areas, has increasingly found itself losing market share to these discount players. However, according to a recent survey done by Market Force Information, it still ranks best in class when it comes to consumer perception.
4,300 consumers aged 18 and over were surveyed for the report, which was released in May 2018. Waitrose scored highest of the seven main chains – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, and Aldi – on assortment, layout, and cleanliness of its stores.
With this in mind, I visited one of its stores in the UK:
I visited a Waitrose store near Milton Keynes, a large town that’s around 1.5 hours from Central London. This location opened in 2013. Disclaimer: I am a Brit, and this was not the first time that I had shopped at a Waitrose store.
Passing through the double doors, the first thing I noticed is that the store was modern and bright.
The entrance area was enticing — fresh fruit and vegetables were front and center, and there was a coffee station to the left.
This instantly set an uplifting tone.
There was a wide selection on offer, including “perfectly ripe” fruits.
Grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and salads were located close to the front of the store to make it easy for lunchtime customers to get in and out easily.
Then there were the eye-catching seasonal offers, which were put in prime places to lure in the bargain hunters.
In the survey, Waitrose scored highly for its ease of finding items. On first impression, this held true — the layout was logical, and each aisle was clearly labelled.
Waitrose is considered to be a more pricey option for groceries in the UK. However, as bargain chains such as Aldi and Lidl have expanded and grown in popularity, it has been forced to become more competitive on price.
There was an impressive selection of private-label items, which offered cheaper alternatives to national brands in most categories.
I spotted deals and discounts on well-known brands throughout the store.
I also came across recipe suggestions. This is a sneaky way for the store to direct customers to buy more items.
Waitrose also scored highly on its specialty department services.
There was an impressive selection of fresh bread on offer. There was also a meat and cheese counter.
The chain also ranked highly for its availability of items. When I visited, it was just two days after Christmas and one day after a UK national holiday. Despite this, the shelves were well-stocked.
There was lots of variety, from fresh meat to ready-made meals …
… food items for consumers with allergies …
… and different cuisines.
This store also had a good selection of homeware items …
… vitamins …
… toiletries …
… and baby clothes.
Right at the back at the store, I came across the alcohol and soft drinks section.
This was a sprawling space with a ton of wine, beer, and spirits.
One of the main reasons the surveyed customers said they enjoy shopping at Waitrose is that it has a speedy checkout process.
It has a mix of self-service options and checkout lines with sales assistants.
Its scan-and-go option, which allows you to purchase items without going near the checkout, is the speediest of all.
Customers scan an item’s barcode as they pass through the store, and their card is automatically charged at the end.
As I headed out of the store, I noticed an adjoining cafe. This is a smart way to drive traffic to the store and give customers another reason to visit.
David Gordon, research director at PlanetRetail RNG, recently told Business Insider that retailers are increasingly devoting more space to areas where people can come in, have a coffee, and interact with each other. Target and Walmart have similar strategies.
The verdict: The shopping experience was great – the store was easy to navigate, and there was a ton of options. I would definitely come back.
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