Tesco fails to plan for Christmas
For many years now Tesco like other supermarkets has offered home delivery of your shopping. You can book hourly slots or flexible slots from 6.00am to 11.00pm every day. Tesco also offers a Delivery Saver options where customers can pay for a subscription-based delivery service to save money on the cost of deliveries.
Yesterday (12 November 2020) Tesco customers who are Delivery Savers received notification that slots for Christmas would open two weeks earlier than normal, at 7.00am the following day.
As you would expect, in a repeat of what we saw at the beginning of the March 2020 lockdown, people tried to get slots by staying up to midnight to book a slot as soon as it became available. However, customers queued online for well over an hour and in some cases more than two hours.
The Tesco Twitter feed was plastered with complaints about the site:
— Tesco (@Tesco) November 13, 2020
Many people complained that friends and relatives who had been in the queue for less time than them but that they were still waiting.
My Brother in Law joined 10 minutes after me. He's got his slot and I'm still in the queue over 90 minutes later. You do know how queues work, right?
— Kirsti (@KirstiBond) November 13, 2020
For many of those who were able to finally get a slot they then couldn’t checkout!
Congratulations, that hasn't worked.
Your website crashed earlier. People who did get through the queue, like I did, then couldn't checkout. It then threw me back out to the queue again, where I've been waiting for over an hour.
Sort your lives out, it's pitiful!
— Paul Clarke (@Clarkeeeeee1980) November 13, 2020
Others got through and found their basket had been emptied and had to start all over again.
At 9.45am a Tesco Spokesperson said:
“Demand for online slots over the festive period is high, and we have more slots this Christmas than ever before. We are experiencing high volumes of traffic to our website and Groceries app and are temporarily limiting the number of customers using it. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and would like to reassure customers that there are still slots available for both home delivery and Click & Collect over the Christmas period.”
However, this was not strictly true, as slots were not available from 8.45am:
Finally got in at 08:45 only slots left are on 21st. Then like everyone else the payment part crashes. I'm sure the board will click and collect another tasty bonus for themselves though. Unacceptable.
— The HappyCat (@IAmTheHappyCat) November 13, 2020
And just a few hours after opening there were still no slots available. This was the situation at 10.00am:
Despite this, the Tesco Twitter team was still advising people that slots were available. It admitted that there were technical problems causing some of the issues.
Others offered ways round:
I was given a tip to login which just worked: Use the phone app and you'll see the normal screen a split second before you get the queue message. I kept opening the app and spamming my finger on the screen where a button was until it registered the click and got me in.
— Tarquin Melt (@TarquinMelt) November 13, 2020
and using more than one device or having lots of tabs open can help too.
Numerous people told the team that the system was wrong and suggested solutions, such as using previous information from customers:
Hi there, I'm sorry, there's a technical issue which is being investigated that means you’ve not been able to leave the waiting page. Our website is extremely busy but please keep waiting and it’ll take you into the website as soon as possible. TY Stephen
— Tesco (@Tesco) November 13, 2020
Other ideas included: giving priority to people who had been on the delivery scheme for longer than others, especially as some join the scheme purely for Christmas; informing people of where they are in a position in the queue; releasing some slots at different times of the day, especially as the planned 7.00am time left many parents unable to both watch the site and get children ready for school.
During lockdown many people tried to book a delivery slot and many of these people would not even have been Delivery Saver customers. So, in theory, today should have seen fewer customers trying to book a slot! But it was chaotic and far worse than through lockdown, when people were left without delivery slots. This time they had to wait for two hours to be told they had missed a slot or get beaten by someone who had waited less time than them!
Tesco has increased the number of its delivery slots from 600,000 to 1.5million a week – which is more than double what was available at the start of the coronavirus lockdown but it’s not clear how many more, if any since the end of lockdown when we know slots increased hugely. In may 2020 it was 1.2 million.
Businesses need to be much better at planning these things. Christmas isn’t like COVID, it can be predicted! Tesco needs to learn lessons from previous years and indeed from throughout this year, when reliable home delivery has become so important.