Waitrose has stolen a march on former partner Ocado in the battle for online shoppers after the pureplay’s capacity issues saw weekly orders slump.

Ocado Retail, the joint venture between Ocado and Marks & Spencer, had an average of 328,000 weekly orders in the fortnight after its September 1 launch. This was down from 345,000 orders a week in the seven weeks prior to the switch, according to internal data seen by The Sunday Times

Former partner Waitrose, meanwhile, has seen weekly orders on its website grow to some 190,000 – a near 20% capacity increase in a month. 

Despite being at the forefront of online grocery delivery, Ocado has been hamstrung since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic because its automated fulfilment system has limited its ability to grow in line with the wider ecommerce food market. 

According to Kantar, online has grown from 8% to 13% of the grocery market since the pandemic began, but Ocado has actually seen its market share diminish. 

Meanwhile, the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s, using ‘pick-at-store’ models, have been able to massively ramp up capacity and weekly order numbers. 

Ocado plans to add a further 40% delivery capacity by the end of next year as new facilities come online and its former warehouse in Andover, which burnt down last February, reopens. 

Waitrose, meanwhile, has designs on increasing online capacity to 250,000 orders a week. 

The retailer’s own journey to ecommerce self-sufficiency without Ocado has not been smooth. Around the same time as Ocado announced its new venture with M&S, Waitrose partnered with former Ocado co-founder Jonathan Faiman’s new company Today Development Partners (TDP) to increase its online capacity. 

TDP was subsequently sued by Ocado and Waitrose quietly cut ties with the business last year.