Ecommerce is still a relatively small part of the overall grocery industry, making up just 3.4% of sales.

However it’s growing rapidly, and in October it was estimated that Tesco received almost 10m visits to its site while Asda received around 5m.

With this in mind, QuBit has published a new usability benchmark that compares the onsite performance and user experience of the top five UK online supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Ocado, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

It follows the same format as previous whitepapers that looked at the online gambling and airline industries.

In the latest report, Ocado comes out on top with a total score of 74% followed by Tesco (66%) and Waitrose (65%). However though Ocado scored top marks in the early stage of the purchase journey, Tesco achieved top marks for the checkout process.

Here is a roundup of some of the report's findings...

Onsite search

QuBit’s report evaluates three separate parts of the customer journey that it labels as find, choose and buy.

A key part of the ‘find’ criteria in the grocery industry is onsite search due to the many different alternatives for each different product. According to the report, the search field should be easily located on the homepage and very visible. 

Asda, Ocado and Tesco provided useful multisearch functionality, allowing the shopper to search for multiple groceries by entering their shopping list. Ocado stood out as the only website to provide a predictive search facility.

For more information on this topic checkout our blog post on 13 best practice tips for onsite search.

Search results

Ocado also came out on top in the ‘choose’ section, which looks at the quality of search results and the product pages.

All the websites were found to provide excellent search tools, though Sainsbury’s was the only website that did not provide a function to filter search results.

Waitrose stood out in this area, allowing the user to filter not only by brand, price and type, but also by fairtrade, organic, vegan, new, avoiding gluten and several other options.

However the extensive search options actually had a negative impact on usability, as when searching for a product that sits under several categories there are so many filtering options that they cover the whole area above the fold - forcing the user to scroll down to the middle of the page before being able to view any results.

Product pages

We’ve previously blogged about the importance of including as much detail as possible – including descriptions and images – on product pages, and QuBit’s report shows that all retailers included the most necessary product information such as nutrition, storage and ingredients.

However, only Ocado included user reviews, the average life of the product and a zoom function on its product pages. That said, none of the product pages that I looked at actually included any consumers reviews even though the option was there.

Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s also took advantage of the opportunity to display relevant cross sells and alternatives to the current product being viewed.


Scores for the ‘buy’ section of the report were low across the board, with Tesco coming out on top with just 59%.

One of the main causes of basket abandonment on ecommerce sites is forced registration, however there are ways to negate the impact by removing any reference to registration while still asking users to provide an email address and password.

Grocery retailers face a unique challenge as the availability of delivery will vary from customer to customer based on their location. 

As a result, none of the websites let customers add anything to the basket without entering a postcode first. However, Ocado and Tesco also require the customer to create an account before continuing shopping, something that proved to be a major annoyance in a user test we ran on Woolworths’ website.

On the plus side, Ocado was the only website to check the fields in the registration for errors in real time which helps to limit the amount of time spent filling in forms.


Tesco, Asda and Waitrose all have reasonably short, efficient checkouts that display a status bar to show the user how may steps are left to completion.

In contrast, Ocado has a massive ten steps in its checkout process, which is highly likely to cause some users to abandon the purchase. 

Furthermore, none of the websites in the benchmark accept third party payment solutions, such as PayPal, or provide a secure site seal to reassure shoppers.

For examples of well designed checkouts read our blog posts on Quiksilver and ASOS, both of which reduce the chances of basket abandonment by closely following best practice and limiting the barriers to purchase.

David Moth

Published 3 January, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

Interesting to see Ocado pushing Facebook login, as per this screenshot

over 5 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

One very annoying thing with Ocado is on the product pages, when you open if you try to click Add straight away the add button moves around as the social share buttons take a bit longer to load pushing the button down whilst you are trying to press it. Showing these buttons tot he side or below the Add button would fix this :-)

over 4 years ago

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