Delivery in 41 minutes but Prosecco pain: Sainsbury’s Chop Chop

Sainsbury’s is trialling its new Chop Chop one-hour delivery service in Wandsworth. With Essential Retail’s offices based within the 3km radius for the trial, editor Ben Sillitoe decided to road test the new offering – and there were some interesting results.

Dusting myself down and taking a deep breath as I arrived into Wandsworth Town train station, last Thursday, after my never-a-dull-moment Kent commute into work, I was alerted to a cheery man in a green T-shirt handing out flyers advertising the latest delivery service from Sainsbury’s.

The supermarket’s ‘Chop Chop’ app is up and running in trial mode, promising customers deliveries to their door in under one hour if they are within a 3km radius of the grocer’s Wandsworth Town superstore. Being close to the retail industry as I am, and keen to monitor the latest innovations in the grocery space, I thought: “I’ll give that a go later on, and see if Sainsbury’s can deliver on its promises.”

As it approached lunchtime, I downloaded the mobile app – which is only available on iOS for now – and set about creating an account. It was all pretty intuitive and there was the option of adding your card details or using PayPal, although I missed the part – if there was one – to add my Nectar card.

Searching for items was relatively straightforward. I decided to buy a few things I needed for home – batteries, shower gel, washing-up liquid – and some Mars ice creams as a gift to my work mates (just to encourage the delivery team to get a move on, on such a hot day). I also treated myself to a Coca Cola to wash down the otherwise very healthy lunch I’d prepared at home. All very smooth, although the search function didn’t display original Coca Cola when I typed in “Coke” – I had to type “Coca” to add the item I was looking for. One for the metadata team, there.

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The number of items customers can order on the Sainsbury’s Chop Chop service is capped at 20, and the service, although free until the end of July, will cost £4.99 whether you order one thing or 20 products. Having confirmed my order at 11:37, I was delighted to hear the buzzer sound on the work office door at 12:18. I was even more delighted that, as a thank-you for using the service (as well as being a clever marketing tool), Sainsbury’s was offering a complimentary box of chocolates or a bottle of Prosecco.

Prosecco dramas

With the weekend almost upon us, I plumped for the Prosecco: cue much interest among the wider office, and multiple downloads of the new app by my work mates. Four of my colleagues made their orders over the next few hours, with two of them happily receiving their goods in the allotted 60-minute time slot, complete with the desired accompanying gift. The other two, however, received a phone call from Sainsbury’s head office, saying they would not receive a free gift because they’d noticed multiple orders from the same address!

Disappointment for them. Although we like to see ourselves as one big family at Essential Retail, we are not actually family! That afternoon we were all separate Sainsbury’s customers and it seemed a tad unfair the later orders were not accompanied by a free gift for the reason that three of us in the office had already received one. I suppose it’s encouraging that Sainsbury’s HQ was on the ball with who was ordering what, but their actions caused a few customer gripes, to say the least.

Free gift shenanigans aside, delivery to office door in 41 minutes is clearly impressive, and the service offered by my Chop Chop delivery man, AJ, was top notch. Not only did he arrive with 19 minutes to spare on his bike, but he knew the Chop Chop model inside out, handed over the items with a smile and appeared to be a great advocate and representative for the brand in the community.

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Whether or not there will be widespread demand for speedy delivery for just under a fiver is another question entirely. And if demand does go through the roof, will the costs of staffing Chop Chop outweigh the sales revenues – especially as customers might only be buying very few items in order to top up their lunch or grab a bottle of wine to take home to have with their evening meal? All in all, though, it is encouraging to see the bigger UK retailers testing new concepts, competing with Amazon’s delivery promises (as we wrote last week, Sainsbury’s announced it is adding 900 jobs to support its online growth) and putting mobile technology at the heart of their offering. The tech supporting Chop Chop worked well, and the supermarket has since told me that they’ll be measuring its success over the coming months, with the view to rolling it out in the new year.

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