“Teething problems” won’t scupper Amazon launch

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.co.uk

Related tags: Grocery store, Amazon

Significant “teething problems” notwithstanding, Amazon.co.uk’s online grocery store has a good chance of success in the long-term, according to food manufacturers taking part in the launch.

Several suppliers contacted by FoodManufacture.co.uk this week said they had experienced problems during the launch, although most were convinced it would ultimately prove successful.

One source at a leading branded foods company said: “The launch has been quite difficult. We put a lot of effort into getting everything organised and ready for the launch but we’ve had quite a lot of trouble.

“They ​[Amazon] don’t seem to have dedicated quite enough resources into this. We had a whole list of stock keeping units that we wanted to put in and there were some errors in the data about some of the products.

“But rather than telling us that we needed to correct the data on product X, they just sent the whole lot back. Usually, you would just deliver the products that are OK to the warehouse and then focus on resolving the ones that aren’t.

“But with Amazon, the issues we’ve had with a few products have meant all of the products were delayed.​"

He added: “This means that at launch we had products that were listed on the website, but were not actually in stock.”

There had also been plans to co-ordinate PR activities that had not materialised owing to the rush to get the service launched, he said. “I don’t know why there was such a big rush – maybe it was the Ocado flotation.”

A bit random?

One md at a smaller branded food company added: “We had some teething problems at the beginning with supplying pictures and other information to meet the site specifications, but they seem to have been resolved now.

“The offer up there does seem a bit random at the moment, and the prices aren't necessarily lower than other places, but I think they will work it out in time, what works and what doesn’t. They have also been very reasonable to deal with on the commercial front."

However, the fulfilment model - with bulk ambient groceries delivered from Amazon’s own depots but niche and temperature-controlled products delivered directly from suppliers – was a concern, as customers ordering several items could potentially receive four or five separate deliveries, he pointed out.

“The problem I have is that if you are ordering several things from different suppliers rather than from Amazon direct, you will end up paying separate delivery fees for all of them.”

No timed delivery slots

The fact that customers were unable to book timed delivery slots was also frustrating, he said.

However, the sales director of one speciality foods supplier featured on the site said he was convinced Amazon would be just as successful in grocery as it had been in other product categories.

“There were always going to be challenges given the scale and complexity of the launch. But I wouldn’t bet against Amazon.”

FoodManufacture.co.uk has made repeated attempts to contact Amazon for comment on the launch and hopes to speak to the firm later this week.

Related topics: Supply Chain, Ambient foods

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