Having already looked at customer acquisition and the online user experience it’s time to turn the spotlight on mobile apps.

The benefits

Mobile apps are primarily useful for encouraging repeat purchases and driving customer loyalty.

Users can save their favourite items and payment details, making it very convenient to re-order when supplies at home are running low.

I would think that it’s unlikely that anyone would use a mobile app for their first purchase with a grocery retailer as it would take too long.

Most retailers have a minimum spend for online shopping so you have to place quite a large order, and due to the huge product range it’s a slow process finding the items you want by clicking through the various categories and sub-categories on a phone.

As such, though ease of navigation around product categories and item pages is obviously important, users are probably more interested in having a decent ‘favourites’ tool and a speedy checkout.


As a pureplay retailer Ocado has far fewer customer touchpoints than its rivals, so its digital platforms have to be excellent if it’s to win any marketshare.

When you first login in to the app it allows you to set a pin number to speed up the shopping process in future – a nice touch and one that removes barriers to entry while remaining secure.


The homepage uses a simple tiled layout with the biggest buttons linking to delivery options and the shopping basket. Displaying the next available delivery slot is a useful feature, as shoppers can clearly see how quickly they will receive their order.

Users can also easily access their favourites list, previous orders and the latest special offers.

Adding an item to your favourites list is extremely simple – you just press a heart icon in the top right of the product page.

Overall the design is quite functional rather than being amazing, but that’s a minor criticism as it remains very easy to navigate.


Booking a delivery slot is extremely simple as the options on each screen are limited so it’s obvious what users need to do to get to the next stage.

After selecting a delivery address, users click the day and then the time they want to receive their order.

At this stage I was forced to checkout via the Ocado website rather than within the app, which is apparently required for security purposes.

Once a customer has made their first order they can checkout within the app, which is obviously preferable to opening up a mobile site.


Tesco’s homepage is an altogether busier affair. It offers the same options but the layout isn’t as clean.

As with Ocado there’s a prominent link to the delivery-booking tool, but it’s quite fiddly and doesn’t notify users of their next available slot.

I like that special offers are displayed here as it will help to increase basket value, although as a bald, childless man I don’t personally have much use for haircare products or nappies.


Although product ‘favourites’ are easily accessible within the hamburger menu, it might be more useful to make them accessible from the homepage.

Instead Tesco has a big banner for ‘One little change’, which doesn’t really mean much to me.

Looking at the favourites tab, it divides products out into:

  • Favourites: This includes any items previously bought online or in-store.
  • Usuals: Refers to any items bought more than once online.

This is a useful distinction to make as people might use ecommerce for different items (e.g. only buy fresh products in-store) though in reality there will be a lot of crossover.


Booking a delivery is very simple and the UX is superior to that offered by Ocado.

Tesco has taken more care over the design so the aesthetics are easier on the eye.

Unfortunately the checkout process feels a bit disjointed. Reserving the delivery and making a payment are treated as two separate actions, so after selecting a delivery slot users are directed back to the homepage, where they must then click another CTA to checkout.


Upon entering the checkout I then had to reconfirm my delivery information before re-entering my password.

Thankfully when you finally get to the checkout it’s a simple three-step process with the option to save payment details to speed up future orders.


Sainsbury’s app looks rather dated and would benefit from a redesign.

The homepage relegates the CTAs to tiny logos at the bottom of the screen in order to give prominence to a massive picture of some Brussels sprouts.


And some of the options are so limited that it’s probably worth removing them altogether.

For example, the recipes tab only gives you access to five different options and there’s no integration with the ecommerce site.

On the plus side, the store locator is a useful option and it works extremely quickly.

If you want to actually place an order the app just opens up the mobile website. This slightly defeats the purpose of having an app, but at least it ensures a consistent user experience.


The site itself is easy to use, though it does look quite dated. 

CTAs are generally quite small and navigation is very slow. Every time you click something a loading wheel appears, which is quite frustrating even if it’s only there for a second or two.


However, as a repeat customer the checkout process was very quick and easy. My address and card details were already stored so I could place an order with just a few clicks.

In conclusion…

This clearly isn’t an exhaustive user test, but in general these retailers offer a decent app user experience.

Repeat customers should find it easy to quickly place an order for their favourite items, with payment made easier by storing their card details.

Ocado and Tesco definitely offer a superior UX to Sainsbury’s, which has failed to make its app transactional (though you can buy items through its mobile site).

In terms of the overall aesthetic, Tesco’s app is the most attractive and offers a useful template for others to aspire towards.

Ocado’s app matches Tesco for UX and even surpasses it in some aspects, but it could do with a facelift.