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Waitrose gunning for Ocado in online retail race

20 June 2011 - 12:53 by Simon Crisp

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Supermarket chain Waitrose is going to be upping its ability to provide safe shopping online to the kinds of people who are willing to pay a little bit more for premium products, giving rise to questions over whether it will dethrone grocery delivery service Ocado, in London and around the country.

Last week Waitrose began a campaign to market its e-commerce site heavily within the nation's capital and the first offer being proposed is free delivery for any customer who spends over £50 over the summer.

The main reason that Waitrose is finally taking on Ocado, a firm which previously was contracted to deliver its online orders, is that the Ocado's exclusivity to deliver within the M25 (barring Waitrose from that area) ends next month.

Waitrose will be gradually beginning to increase its competitiveness over the coming months, with the October launch of a dedicated London warehouse for the provision of safe shopping online being a real landmark in this development process.

While the sizable London market is the first aim of the Waitrose campaign it will not be neglecting the rest of its customers across the UK - 150 stores flung far and wide will also be eligible to provide orders made via its e-commerce site, which accounts for about 96 per cent of its user base.

Industry analyst Clive Black, said that Ocado would be facing significant competition following the expansion of Waitrose in the delivery market, according to the Financial Times.

Sources say that Ocado is not flustered by its separation from Waitrose, with some suggesting that it could be acquired by a rival and thus have a renaissance of its own in the ever-growing online grocery market.