Editor’s blog: toss away your trolley

I’ve had it with supermarket shopping. On one (rare) trip to our local Sainsbury’s, in addition to the usual gruesome mix of jousting for a car park space, watching tetchy parents disciplining their wailing kids and not being able to find the correct aisle for balsamic vinegar, some poor cyclist was lying on the floor next to organic veg –helmet in hand – having a seizure. Hardly anybody took any notice.

How anyone can derive any pleasure from carting a trolley around the aisles is a complete mystery to me (and I always choose the wrong queue to check-out – the one where the till jockey is on a go-slow or one of the punters in front doesn’t have enough cash.) Personally, I’d rather go for some root canal work.

There is, of course, an answer: get it delivered straight to your door. Preserve your sanity and save the planet simultaneously. We were early Ocado adopters and suddenly groceries are almost a pleasure again. No dreary in-store announcements (‘Cleaner to aisle three, please, cleaner to aisle three’). No getting gouged in the Achilles by a speed freak piloting his trolley through dairy and cheese. Ocado drivers glide towards the house at a serene 26 mph, and when they arrive with all those heavy bags the delivery staff are the most polite I’ve ever come across. They have even been known to refuse a tip.

So a recent trip up to the Ocado warehouse in Hatfield was something I was actually looking forward to. It’s a complex monster of an operation and no wonder it’s taken all this time to reach what they say is profitability: the whole back-end is effectively bespoke because no consultant could come up with what the ruling trio – all ex-Goldman Sachs tough guys – were after. What I found even more interesting was their desire to pick a fight with Tesco – they’re convinced they are getting right up Sir Terry’s nose.

Still, with petrol prices going stratospheric, green concerns mounting and online retail becoming more and more accepted, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that internet grocery shopping is the future.

You can read all about the Ocado Boys in next month’s print edition of MT.