Coronavirus: Supermarket home delivery fleets reach maximum capacity

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Supermarket home delivery services have run out of delivery slots due to excessive demand caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Ocado has closed its website until Saturday (March 21) due to high volumes of traffic.

Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco have sold out of delivery slots in many locations, with some customers unable to place an order within the next three weeks.

Ocado said the temporary closure will enable it to carry out essential work that will help to ensure distribution of products and delivery slots is as fair and accessible as possible for all customers going forward.

A statement issued by the company’s CEO Melanie Smith said: “Like all supermarkets, we are working round the clock to keep up with high demand and make sure all of our customers get what they need at this time – especially those more vulnerable and in isolation.

“As a result, we have made a decision to temporarily close access to so you will not be able to edit an existing order or book a new delivery for the next few days.”

Delivery companies are facing extreme pressures as official Government advice suggests that people should not make unnecessary journeys and stay home where possible.

Sainsbury's has published a statement on its website saying: "We have limited delivery availability due to extremely high demand.

"We are doing everything we can to improve this situation, please check back regularly for latest availability."

Mike Coupe, the supermarket’s CEO said click and collect customers will be able to pick up deliveries from a collection point in store car parks from Monday (March 23).

He added: "We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this.

"Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park."

Meanwhile, Asda also said: "Our online business is growing and we do have capacity to take on more orders – however; we would ask customers who can be flexible in their delivery slots to consider less popular delivery times."

Morrisons has announced plans to create 3,500 jobs to help expand home deliveries to get groceries to vulnerable people.

Dr Sam Roscoe, senior lecturer in Operations Management at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “While supply chains are able to adjust to big spikes in demand from the Coronavirus, my feeling is that labour shortages will cause the greatest issue where there are not enough drivers, warehouse workers and machine operators because they have all decide to stay home from fear of getting sick.  Labour shortages are not industry specific and will affect all businesses selling finished goods to consumers.”

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  • Gordy - 19/03/2020 12:50

    A lot of mileage for supermarket delivery vehicles is travelling between stores and customers and much more can be done to use telematics to modify delivery routes e.g. could the supermarkets try doing “all deliveries to town A on Monday and town B on Tuesday”. That way they’d maximise slots. Also, how about driving round towns with high percentages of “at-risk” people with trucks full of provisions (milk, bread, other essentials) to sell from the kerbside using contactless. The driver picks the goods and places it in the basket or customers bags for the customer to collect. Do we have any fleet experts who could devise such a vehicle to meet this specific need we find ourselves in for the foreseeable future? Help the industry support our vulnerable then as many people as possible will get through this. Thanks.

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  • David Dunn - 19/03/2020 15:58

    I worked for Asda as a supervisor for home shopping and have friends that work for Tesco and Morrisons home shopping. The systems in place do calculate the best possible route a driver can take for both efficiency and to keep them within time slots. Asda currently have a policy that no deliveries will be made outside of allotted time slot, i assume they have suspended this now. I know people are working to their limits to provide customers with a service, some dont have chance to get their own shopping.

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