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Analyzing customer reviews of online grocery services

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the shopping habits of consumers, particularly in the supermarket space. Research suggests that over three-quarters of people in the UK now do some sort of online grocery shopping – with the over 55s age category seeing the biggest shift in behavior patterns.

We wanted to better understand how this rising trend has impacted the consumer experience, and dive deeper into people’s opinions regarding online grocery shopping. So, we turned to comparative text analysis, analyzing review data of three major players to uncover customer insights.

Analyzing review data through comparison

Looking specifically at Ocado, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, we collected hundreds of TrustPilot reviews from the start of the pandemic and uploaded them to Relative Insight. A useful feature in our platform is what we call a ‘NOT comparison‘. This involves comparing a specific language set against all the others in a particular project. In this case, comparing each competitor against the other two.

Relative Insight then highlights the linguistic differences and similarities between these language data sets. The platform pinpoints the significant words, phrases, topics, grammar and emotion unique to each data set. By analyzing review data through this refined method of competitor analysis, you can understand your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Equipped with these powerful insights, brands can enhance the customer experience and marketing strategy.


Cheerful drivers and happy customers
Customers value the positive experience they have when ordering groceries online with Tesco. Online reviews include words such as brilliant, excellent and pleased when describing the customer experience.

Moreover, Tesco customers are twice as likely to comment on the friendly, cheerful delivery drivers. This relationship between the customer and Tesco employees is a key strength for Tesco, which they should continue to nurture and promote.

Issues with tray liners
In our comparison, we found that a key concern for Tesco customers was issues with the plastic tray liners that produce arrives in. Reviews indicated that customers were upset by Tesco’s decision to remove these liners. Customers remarked that they didn’t think that the delivery process was now COVID safe, and that unloading the shopping without bags was a major inconvenience.

However, there was a slight dichotomy here. Ironically, customers wanted Tesco to be more environmentally friendly. Clearly, this audience wants the best of both worlds. However, Tesco should bear in mind the environmentally conscious consumers throughout their comms.


Damaged products
An issue that Ocado customers had was the produce was that it often arrived broken or damaged. Customers even described receiving their products in abysmal packing. Ocado should ensure produce is packed securely and find ways to optimize their current packing processes to better the customer experience,.

Losing loyal customers
Ocado pioneered the way for online grocery shopping. However, as the pandemic increased demand, long-standing and loyal customers felt that the company didn’t prioritize their needs. Some customers even reviewed the company as greedy. Although Ocado cannot change the past, whats interesting is that Ocado customers are 4.5x more likely to describe themselves as loyal. This is a key difference between Ocado customers and the customers of competitors. Recognizing their loyal consumer base could be strategically valuable to Ocado.


Canceled delivery
Sainsbury’s customers were 2.1x more likely to mention canceled deliveries in their reviews. There appeared to be a repetitive pattern here, whereby consumers were only informed of their canceled deliveries with very little notice, which ultimately caused more frustration.

Lack of communication
Sainsbury’s customers are 5.1x more likely to mention poor customer service in their reviews, further highlighting this lack of communication. Customers who have received the wrong order or requested a refund appear frustrated by the lack of support, using words such as appalling to describe their experience. Good customer service positively impacts customer experience and brand perception insights. Therefore Sainsbury’s should aim to make the refund process easier and seamless.


Differences in language provide context, enabling brands to see how they stack up against competitors. However, spotting similarities is incredibly useful too because it enables us to track generic consumer narrative on the topic of online grocery shopping.

We found that the topics easy and difficult appear equally across the review data of all three brands, suggesting that no one competitor had differentiated on customer experience. While online shopping provides customers with an easy alternative to shopping in person, it seems that some people will always experience some form of difficulty. Hence, the importance of an exceptional customer service team.

Unique customer insights examples emerge through text analysis. By analyzing review data of key competitors in a specific industry, we can identify room for growth and development in both marketing strategy and customer service purposes. Get in touch to find out more.

Find customer experience insights with Relative!