AWS drives pandemic growth for Waitrose & Partners

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) ecommerce platform has enabled Waitrose & Partners to increase online shopping conversion rates by multiple points – a difference that the grocer says could, if sustained, drive millions of pounds more in sales per year, according to a new case study.

Since 2016, Waitrose has utilised AWS’ technology to improve its customer experience and speed up website performance during the busiest periods of year, such as Christmas.

When lockdowns hit across the UK in the spring of 2020, orders spiked as more shoppers than ever visited to arrange for home delivery of groceries. Weekly orders doubled to 100,000 per week during the first month of lockdown, and at one point hit a record of 238,748. Over the year, ecommerce quadrupled from 5 percent to 20 percent of Waitrose’s overall business. 

AWS ensured never went down, despite demand being 10 times higher than usual. The launch of its new infrastructure enabled Waitrose to grow during the pandemic, with much of this growth attributed to improvements in the online checkout process and overall performance.

Andy Carroll, digital delivery and operations manager at Waitrose & Partners, said: “When the site was so busy that shoppers couldn’t place orders, we could increase our AWS resources to enable customers to get to a landing page where it would give them some information. They weren’t just stuck with a spinning cursor and a timeout message.” 

Using the AWS infrastructure, Waitrose was able to launch new features during the pandemic, such as capping the number of essentials like toilet paper or baby formula that shoppers could order, as well as build solutions to prioritise vulnerable customers – a government requirement for all supermarkets. 

Gerry Ward, digital platform and operations manager at Waitrose, said: “Thanks to agile ways of working and quick turnaround on deployments, we could pivot quickly to respond to ever-changing customer behaviour during the pandemic. We were able to extend the cut-off times for customers to amend orders, vary the length of slot horizons, and protect the site so customers could always continue their shopping journeys.” 

Andy Carroll adds: “Our teams can do amazing things now. AWS helps Waitrose to always put the customer first. Together we are continually improving the online experience, while also innovating and inspiring our customers in our digital offerings.”