Shock result in study of best and worst supermarkets

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Iceland has been named the best online supermarket - knocking Ocado off the top spot. The Which? study found that Iceland had overtaken both Ocado and Waitrose to nab the title. Waitrose, meanwhile, was voted the best in-store supermarket. But who was bottom of the heap?

Iceland

Iceland triumphed in a number of areas in the annual customer satisfaction survey of online supermarket shopping. It did well for substitutions - by not making too many, and by making sensible ones where necessary. Most of the supermarkets have made some pretty stunning mistakes in this department - which have done the rounds on social media. Ocado once replaced a lemon cheesecake with salami, while Tesco impressively chose to replace walnut bread with a whole octopus.

Iceland was also voted good value for money, and shoppers liked the number of special offers that were available: overall it scored 77%. It's great news for a chain that has had a number of challenging years and a particularly disappointing Christmas - as it has been squeezed by the discounters. It's also a sign that its website relaunch, along with the upgrading of the product range, is starting to pay off.

Asda

Asda, meanwhile, received the worst scores of all the online supermarkets - with an overall rating of just 65%. It did reasonably well for prices, but the website made the process of shopping too difficult for many shoppers to bother with. Social media is full of complaints from people who struggled to find what they needed, couldn't update their details, and suffered site crashes as they came to pay for their shopping.

It emerged last week that the website actually had a security flaw too, which left customer payment details vulnerable - although the report made it clear that the flaw was remedied before hackers had an opportunity to take advantage.

In-store results

Waitrose was voted the best supermarket for in-store shopping. It was particularly rated for the quality of its own brand products, staff and store appearance - and got a score of 75% overall. Marks & Spencer was in second place - followed by Aldi and Lidl.

The Co-operative got the worst in-store scores, rating poorly for the availability of products, value for money and range. This is the third year the brand has taken last place. The store responded to the survey by saying it was based on previous performance, and hadn't taken into account recent improvements - so we will have to see whether it can escape last place next time round.

Tesco was also notable for its low scores, coming second from last. Customers were unimpressed with staff and stock availability. Tesco made the decision to slim down its product offering, and in many cases has taken an axe to large sections of its specialist food ranges. It means that shopping at Tesco has become a frustrating exercise for vegetarians and those with allergies.

Annoying

The survey also asked people to rate the most irritating things about the supermarkets. They listed long checkout queues, items being out of stock, misleading special offers and the prices of products changing too often as their biggest bugbears.

Alex Neill, Which? Director of Campaigns said: "While value for money remains a high priority, people want special offers to genuinely be special and they want a pleasant in-store shopping experience. When it comes to online shopping, we know convenient and low cost delivery slots are prominent factors in where people choose to shop."

But what do you think? Do you agree with the study, or does your local supermarket fly in the face of the findings? Let us know in the comments.

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Shock result in study of best and worst supermarkets

The supermarkets invest in enormous shopping trolleys, and then put bulky special offers by the door - like packs of beer or enormous cereal boxes.

The idea is to tempt you into taking a big trolley, because tests have shown that it’s likely to make us buy more. Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed, found that by doubling the size of trolleys, customers would buy 19% more.

This is a disaster for a couple of reasons. The first is that you’ll end up buying things you don’t need - because you already have plenty in the fridge or the cupboard. You’d be surprised how many people come home with tomatoes every week, then throw out the ones that have gone rotten in the fridge. They'll do this every single week without ever spotting that they don’t eat as many tomatoes as they think they do.

The other problem is that you’ll end up forgetting things, and have to go back to the store, which will leave you susceptible to the next common mistake.

Apparently we’re giving up the weekly grocery shop in favour of a number of trips to different stores to pick up bargains.

If you do this right, it can be a great way to save. However, if you don’t plan it properly, you’re just giving yourself more opportunities to buy on impulse.

In the book ‘America’s Cheapest Family’ the authors claim that more than 50% of what we buy in store is on impulse. The authors actually only go to the supermarket once a month to cut back on impulse purchases.

If you browse at eye-level using your peripheral vision, that’s where you’ll find the expensive brands.

Look around at the top and bottom of the shelves for the own-brand versions or the cheaper brands - and try out the cheaper versions of your usual shopping.

Aside from Christmas, stores will play quiet and relaxing music, with a slow tempo. This is designed to make you shop more slowly, and take the time to spot the impulse buys.

If you put headphones on and play something with a faster tempo (it doesn't have to be any particular type of music), then you’ll pick up the tempo, and studies have shown you’ll buy around 29% less.

On the one hand, if you do the maths, you might find that buying a larger pack means that each packet of crisps or can of coke costs less. However, Vestcom, a retail services company, has found that when we buy bigger packets, we consume more.

It means that when you’re buying things like toilet rolls and washing powder, straightforward maths will tell you the cheapest size to buy. When it comes to crisps and drinks, consider carefully whether you will just end up eating and drinking more.

Sometimes that big red sticker is a great discount on something you need: usually its not.

Don’t let special offers tempt you into buying things you don’t need, and don't assume that anything with a big red sticker is a bargain. It’s worth taking your receipt from your previous shop with you when you go shopping, so you can easily compare whether the new price is a good discount or not.

The end of the aisle gets more of our attention, because it's where we need to turn the trolley, so we’re going slower.

However, this isn’t always where the stores put the incredible bargains. They often sell these positions to companies trying to promote a particular product. When the company has the budget to spend on this sort of promotion, it means they may not necessarily be the cheapest option.

If your cheese has been grated, your salad washed, or your carrots chopped, then you’ll pay the price for it.

Not only will you pay significantly more for your shopping, but in many cases you'll get an inferior product too. Grated cheese has additives to stop it sticking, for example, while bagged salad will go brown significantly faster than a head of lettuce.

Frozen food is often far cheaper, so people assume it’s likely to be inferior. However, the fresh fish at the counter has often been frozen, so you’re gaining nothing for paying more here - in fact you're losing out because you have to use it up more quickly.

The other things that are well worth considering are frozen vegetables. These are much cheaper than fresh vegetables, and are often frozen at the peak of their freshness, so are better for you too.

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