April 8, 2014, 5:24 PM

Pay once, get online orders shipped free all year, a U.K. supermarket promises

Sainsbury’s Anytime Pass provides free delivery for a year for 100 pounds (US $167.49). Less expensive plans are available for midweek delivery only. Sainsburys says that more than 10,000 shoppers have already purchased an online delivery pass.

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Sainsbury’s hopes its new web shopping updates will appeal to both the taste buds and pocketbooks of consumers. The retailer, No. 10 in the Europe 500 Guide has made several enhancements to its grocery site and also launched an online book club to follow on its in-store book club.

“We began the rollout of the new site in September last year, working our way through the country, store by store, post code by post code,” Jon Rudoe, digital and technology director for Sainsburys writes in a blog post about the retailer’s updated grocery e-commerce site. “The feedback from customers about the new site has been positive, the site is holding up well and we're excited to have made the site available to all our online customers.”

Perhaps the biggest update in terms of impact to U.K. consumers is the launch of Sainsbury’s Online Delivery Pass. Consumers can pay for Anytime Passes or Midweek Passes. With an Anytime Pass, consumers can select any available delivery slot any day of the week and pay no delivery fee. The minimum order is 40 pounds (US $66.97) and consumers can order once per day.  The Anytime Pass costs 100 pounds (US $167.49) for 12 months and 60 pounds (US $100.49) for six months. The less expensive Midweek Pass, selling for 75 pounds (US$ 125.62) for 12 months and 40 pounds (US $67) for six months, has the same stipulations except that shoppers must select a delivery slot on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

According to its site, Sainsbury’s charges a delivery fee of between 2.99 pounds (US $5.01) and 5.99 pounds (US $10.03) for orders over 40 pounds (US $66.97).  Orders totaling less than 40 pounds are charged a premium delivery fee of 6.95 pounds (US $11.64). Minimum delivery order value is 25 pounds (US $41.86). There is currently no charge for orders totaling more than 100 pounds (US $167.42) for delivery all day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. However beginning April 28 that will change, and orders of 100 pounds or higher will come with free delivery only after 2 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.

Sainsburys says that more than 10,000 shoppers have already purchased an online delivery pass.  By comparison, competitor Tesco Plc, No. 5 in the Europe 500 offers a three-month anytime plan for 36 pounds ( US $60.27) or a six-month anytime plan for 60 pounds (US $167.49). Shoppers with Tesco also have the option to pay their plans by the month. A Midweek plan, valid on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for delivery anytime a slot is available, is 27 pounds (US $45.20) for three months or 45 pounds for six months (US $75.34). Tesco shoppers must order at least 40 pounds (US $66.97) worth of merchandise to get free delivery under the plan.

Other updates to Sainsburys’ grocery shopping site, which in 2012 did $1.77 billion in web sales according to Internet Retailer estimates, include enabling shoppers to search by 'Favourites', 'Special Offers', 'New Products' and 'Top Brands'.  

“We'll update the items you usually buy much quicker than before,” Rudoe writes. “Our new groceries online web site makes it easier to navigate the site and include items which customers may have forgotten, or not previously considered.”

Other enhancements include a larger variety of recipes that list ingredients shoppers can click to directly add to their carts. There are also more resources, such as ideas for special occasions, tips and articles.  The web development team took mobile devices into consideration when launching the site, Rudoe says.

“My team and I have paid particular attention to making sure the new site works well on tablet and mobile devices,” Rudoe writes in the blog. “Much of our work has focused on improvements behind the screen. The new platform will allow us to build new functionality in the future that will make the shopping experience better, faster and more efficient for our customers and allow us to grow our online grocery sales.”

Sainsburys also ranks No. 19 in the 2014 Mobile 500. The 10 largest European Mobile 500 merchants accounted for about half, $2.2 billion, of total sales for European retailers in the Mobile 500. Those 10 retailers are: Vente-Privee.com (No. 6 in the Mobile 500), Shop Direct Ltd. (No. 7), Ocado Ltd. (No. 8), Otto Group (No. 13), Next Plc (No. 15), J Sainsburys Plc (No. 19), Tengelmann (No. 20), Kering (No. 22) and YOOX Group (No. 23).


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