Prawns do not replace cod

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Rewe, Germany’s second largest supermarkt chain, launched the online grocery delivery service more than six years ago but there’s still a lot of room for improvement

The big German supermarket group Rewe had a reason to celebrate a couple of months ago. The company was named as the country’s most popular online food delivery service. Online sales of groceries and other food products have been sluggish in Germany. Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney expects e-commerce will account for 3 percent of the grocery market by 2020, up from just 1 percent now. But almost half of the people ordering fresh groceries online use Rewe.

I’m among them but I have to admit I’m not a happy customer. After having used Ocado in London for quite some time I was curious whether Rewe could match Ocado’s level of quality and service. They can with regard to punctuality. They are even a bit better by sending you a text message on you mobile about half an hour before the expected delivery which is usually in a two hour time frame of your choice. That’s quite convenient whereas as an Ocado customer you choose an one hour delivery slot and might have to wait until the end of this chosen time frame.

But there are two different aspects which do not work as well as in the UK: It’s the price and the choice of different products. Rewe is more expensive if you order quite often and if you want your groceries to be delivered within the time frame of two hours. That costs usually almost 5 Euros for an order of more than 80 Euros. Ocado charged something like 6 pounds a months when we lived in the UK and all deliveries were included in this monthly package price – regardless whether we ordered once a week or every other day.

Do not get me wrong: I can live with paying 5 Euro per delivery but what really winds me up is the limited choice at Rewe and its substitution recommendations when I want to order something Rewe does have in store. The other day I wanted to make a big order including some beverages. So I ordered my husband’s favourite alcohol free beer and my favourite mineral water.

They did not have either one and made recommendations how to substitute this at the end of the ordering process. Instead of Franziskaner Alkoholfrei (the non-alcoholic beer) they suggested the alcoholic version of this. And instead of the mineral water with mild carbonation they suggested the extremely fizzy version. That’s not a very close substitution. If I order alcohol free beer I want alcohol free beer and some other brand would have been able to do the job – but not the alcoholic version.

A few weeks back we made an even more bizarre experience with Rewe. Among many things I ordered cod. What did I get instead: prawns. And instead of dill which I ordered for a cucumber salat they brought chili peppers. I was neither told about the substitutions when ordering nor when the Rewe guy delivered the stuff.

I called the Rewe hotline and complained. They sorted the problem out by refunding the money for the prawns and excused for the mistake of delivering chili peppers instead of dill. I was reconciled – until recently when the thing with the alcohol free beer happened.

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One of my favourite Yotam Ottolenghi recipes requires rice vinegar which is not easy to get when using the Rewe online delivery service

Besides the choice of products is quite limited anyway when ordering online. I wanted to order rice vinegar for example for a great Yotam Ottolenghi recipe I love to fix. Now you can order rice vinegar at Rewe but it will not be delivered with the other products you ordered. It will be send by some other company.

Now come on, what’s the point of this? I think I’ll take a break from online grocery shopping for the time being and wait until Ocado expands to Germany.

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