How do I contact an Ocado Buyer?
The first step is to complete our Become a Supplier online application. Once we’ve checked out your application, the relevant Buyer will use the information you give to decide whether your product is a good fit for Ocado. You can expect to hear from us within 8 weeks.
How many sites must suppliers deliver to?
All products must be delivered to our Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs), in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and in Dordon, West Midlands. We’re growing fast, and in the process of building two more CFCs, in Andover, Hampshire, and Erith, Kent – so soon you’ll need to be able to deliver to all four sites.
Where do Ocado deliver?
We deliver to parts of England and Wales (for now). We’re expanding all the time, but if you have a specific postcode in mind, check www.ocado.com/postcode.
Should I send samples to Ocado head office?
Not initially – we’re a growing organisation with a rather busy post room. Please complete the Become a Supplier online application first, and when your application has been reviewed, the relevant Buyer will ask if they’d like samples.
How often do you review ranges?
We don’t have range windows – we’re always on the look-out for great products. Fill out our Become a Supplier online application form and when your application form has been reviewed, the relevant Buyer will be in touch with 8 weeks.
What are Ocado Buyers looking for?
Our Buyers want to be the first to find new products that aren’t widely available, but they’re also excited to see products with competitive commercials. Do a spot of research and have a look at what we already offer in your category before applying – it may just give you an edge on the competition.
What’s a range proposal?
It’s an outline of the range you want to launch with us. If you’re getting in touch about one product, then it’s all about your hero; if you have products in multiple sizes, your range proposal is likely to be a selection of your bestsellers.
What’s an annual promotional plan?
An overview of the special offers you want to use to attract our customers throughout your first year with us. Before you speak to a Buyer, have a think about what this plan should look like. Have a nosey at what your competitors are already doing on ocado.com and elsewhere. Don’t forget, it’s important to consider your overall costs when planning this.
What does retail ready mean?
Retail-ready businesses can deliver to our Customer Fulfillment Centres in appropriate vehicles (temperature-controlled if required) on a single case or layer basis, or on pallets, in robust packaging. Retail-ready products have barcodes and date code information – ‘use-by’ and ‘sell-by’ dates, which are compliant with EU/UK labelling legislation. Find out more in our legal stuff section below.
The legal stuff
Does my business need to be registered in the EU/UK before I can supply Ocado?
Under European law all food businesses must be registered to an EU address and with a local authority. In the UK, this is Environmental Health. Registering doesn’t cost anything, and you can start the process by contacting the Environmental Health Officer at your local council.
What packaging or labelling do I need to supply Ocado?
Packaging needs to be robust enough to withstand our picking process, this is especially important if the contents are liquid or fragile. It also needs a barcode and to comply with European Food Information Regulations (feature ‘use-by’ dates, allergen and nutritional information). Extensive information is available on the Food Standards Agency website: www.food.gov.uk.
What’s a product recall plan?
If a food business believes their product is unsafe, they’re legally obliged to withdraw it from sale and inform customers the reason for withdrawal. A product recall plan details how you will manage this process. It should include an email and telephone number where you, or a senior member of your team can be contacted on a 24/7 basis.
What’s a HACCP plan?
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a food safety management system designed to control hazards at points critical to food safety. Food businesses are legally required to implement a food safety management system based on the requirement of good hygiene practices and HACCP principles. Your local Environmental Health Officer should be able to help with this.
Is there a restriction on product size?
Yes – we have a weight restriction of 15kg, and product dimensions must be under 534mm x 334mm x 340mm.
The Ocado supply chain
Why is Ocado different from other supermarkets?
We’re the world’s largest dedicated online grocery supermarket. We’re powered by a unique fulfilment and logistics machine – everything we do is designed to give customers the best service possible. Our suppliers deliver directly to our Customer Fulfillment Centres, where products can be put away, packed, and sent out to customers in as little as five hours. We’ve got a short supply chain and rapid turnover, which helps us offer customers a freshness guarantee.
What are your minimum order quantities?
A number of things might affect minimum order quantities, such as the temperature your product needs to be kept at, or the anticipated rate of sale. If your application is successful, your Buyer will discuss this with you during the ranging process.
How many distribution centres does Ocado have?
Right now, we’re delivering to over 70% of the UK population through two distribution centres, or Customer Fulfillment Centres, as we call them. These are in Hatfield, Hertfordshire and Dordon, West Midlands. The good news is we’re growing and we’re in the process of building two more in Andover, Hampshire and Erith, Kent.
Marketing with Ocado
I’m worried about devaluing my brand. Why should I put my products on promotion/special offer?
Special offers are a strong incentive for customers to try something new; remember, online customers can’t touch, smell or compare products like they can in store. Also, each customer sees a different version of the website according to their buying habits. This means that they see products in a different order too. Promotions put products higher up the assortment and give your brand increased visibility.
What’s the best promotion/special offer?
This depends on lots of things, such as your category, what your competitors are doing, and the retail price of your product. Doing a spot of research online is always a good idea, but a good rule of thumb is to mix reduction promotions (e.g. Save 25%) and multibuys (e.g. 3 for 2).
How often should I promote my products?
The art of successful promotions can vary from one category to the next. Head to ocado.com and takea look at the competition in your category – it will give you an idea of where to start. If your application is accepted, your Buyer will happily advise on what they think will work best for you.
What’s Brandbank? And how do I subscribe to it?
Brandbank manages digital brand content. It hosts product information (or ‘back of pack’ as we call it) and high resolution imagery. This is really important for selling your products online, where customers want to see as much information as possible. If your application is successful, you will need to subscribe to Brandbank and upload this information before you can go live on ocado.com.
How can I advertise my products on Ocado?
There are lots of marketing opportunities available. We offer targeted sampling campaigns, graphic banners on relevant product pages, social media, features in our customer magazine, Ocadolife, and more. If your application is accepted, your Buying Manager will provide you with an information pack, and help you decide what will work best for your brand.
Other useful information
If my products are on Ocado, will they be in Waitrose too?
We offer our customers Waitrose products, but we’re separate businesses. Essentially, Waitrose is simply one of our suppliers too. A listing on Ocado doesn’t guarantee a listing with Waitrose.
Do I need temperature controlled vehicles to deliver my products to Ocado?
If your products are chilled or frozen, then you will need temperature controlled distribution. If you don’t have suitable delivery equipment, then once your application is accepted your supply chain contact can give you a list of recommended hauliers.
What haulier should I get to deliver my products to Ocado?
If your application is successful, then your supply chain contact will provide you with a list of recommended hauliers.
Ambient – a reference to the temperature your product(s) needs to be stored at. In this case, room temperature.
BOP/Back of pack – product information you’d usually find on packaging, like product description and nutritional information. Some suppliers like to include extra information, such as other products in the range, or awards they’ve won.
Brandbank – a digital content management platform which makes sure your product images and information are readily available. Without it, your product images and information won’t appear on Ocado.
CFC – Customer Fulfilment Centre. This is what we call our warehouses, and is where suppliers deliver products, so we can pick, pack and deliver them to customers. Other businesses might call this a distribution centre – but we think they’re so much more that that.
Chilled – this is a reference to the temperature your product(s) needs to be stored at. In this case, refrigerated but not frozen.
FIR – this stands for Food Information Regulation and is the European legislation governing what information needs to be displayed on food products. It includes nutritional and allergy information, as well as use-by and sell-by dates. More information is available on the Food Standards Agency website.
Frozen – this is a reference to the temperature your product(s) needs to be stored at. In this case, in the freezer.
HACCP – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, a Food Standards Agency approved system which helps food businesses ensure the food they make or serve is safe to eat.
Haulier – a third-party who will transport products on your behalf to our Customer Fulfillment Centres.
Media/Media plans – when Buyers refer to media, they’re talking about advertising on the website – banners, featured products, that sort of thing. Media plans are a bit like promotional plans – it’s an agreement between Buyers and suppliers about brand advertising on our website.
Pick face – your product location in our Customer Fulfillment Centres. Products sit in pick faces whilst waiting to be picked by our Personal Shoppers.
Product recall plan – your in-case-of-emergency process for getting products back from customers if there is something wrong. For example, you’d need to know what to do if there was a labelling error, or if the ‘use-by’ dates were incorrect.
Promos/Promotions – special offers, discounts. Here’s a list of common mechanics:
Link deal e.g. Buy 3 packs of eggs, get egg cup free.
Multibuy e.g. Buy 1, Add 1 Free.
Reduction promo e.g. Half Price, Save 1/3, or £1 off.
Promotional plan – an overview of the special offers and marketing activity you plan to run with us throughout the year. Other companies sometimes call this a Joint Business Plan (JBP).
Quickview – when you’re browsing our site and you click on a product, a small window will pop up showing a brief overview of the product, including image, name, price and description. This is the quickview. You can click through to see more detailed product information – we call this the back of pack (BOP).
Retail ready – this covers businesses and products. Retail-ready businesses are able to deliver products to our Customer Fulfillment Centres in appropriate vehicles – temperature-controlled if required – on pallets and in robust packaging. Retail-ready products have barcodes and date code information – ‘use-by’ and ‘sell-by’ dates, which are compliant with EU/UK legislation. Find out more in our legal stuff section above.
SKU number – 8 or 9 digit number we use to identify each product. Why? Well, long descriptions don’t work very well in Excel, or in algorithms.