As social distancing rules are extended throughout the UK, many older people will be making use of online grocery shopping services for the first time with some of the biggest supermarkets. This may appear to be a complicated process, particularly for those who are accustomed to travelling to a physical store and might be less familiar with online shopping. However, we want to reassure our customers that they can still complete their weekly shop without exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.
We have put together this guide to online grocery shopping with information on delivery slots and new initiatives which prioritise elderly or vulnerable customers.
Getting set up
To make an order for home delivery from most UK supermarkets, you will need to create an account on their website. Usually, the customer is asked to input their email address and select a password (different sites will have different requirements for the security of your password, but a general rule of thumb is to aim for 8-12 characters including a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, or symbols.) As part of the sign-up process, you may also be asked to enter your postcode in order to confirm that delivery services are available in your area. The vast majority of UK supermarkets offer delivery across the UK so it is very unlikely that your postcode will not be eligible.
Once you have an account set up, you will be prompted to select a delivery slot. There has naturally been a surge in demand in recent weeks and months as more and more people need to self-isolate in their homes. However, all of the major UK supermarkets have schemes in place to prioritise vulnerable customers to whom the virus poses the greatest risk. These are mostly based off government lists of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people. You will be in this category if you have a medical condition which means you are extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, or if you have been told by your GP or other clinical professional that you are clinically extremely vulnerable. You can register yourself as extremely vulnerable on the government website here (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable) In order to be prioritised for delivery slots under this scheme, you will need to answer ‘no’ to the question that asks whether you have a way to get essential supplies delivered at the moment.
The shopping process
Now you have your account all set up and your delivery slot booked, you can begin selecting the products you want to buy. You can search for each product in turn using the search bar usually found at the top of the page or browse products by category. Loose fruits and vegetables can often be bought by weight as well as by quantity, so make sure you know whether you’re buying one apple or one kilogram of apples!
Once you have added everything you want to your ‘basket’ you will need to pay for your order. You can click on the basket or trolley icon, usually found in the top-right corner of the page, to review the items you have selected. Once you are happy with your selection you can click ‘checkout’ to pay for your order by card. There may also be a space for you to leave additional notes or information for your delivery driver. Contactless delivery is becoming the norm in order to minimise exposure for those who are self-isolating but you may want to specify here that you are self-isolating so that the driver will know to be especially careful.
You should receive an email to confirm your order and delivery slot very quickly after your payment is complete, so you can stay in the safety of your home in the knowledge that your shopping is on its way to you.
If you are unable to place an order
If for any reason you are unable to place an order for home delivery, there are still other ways for you to stay safe and get the essentials you need.
Morrison’s has launched a new telephone service for customers who do not or cannot use online shopping. You can order a selection of essential items over the phone on 0345 322 0000, although you should expect the phone lines to be extremely busy and you may need to wait a long time. If you order through this service, payment will be taken on the doorstep, so be careful to maintain as much distance as possible and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds after accepting the delivery.
Several supermarkets are offering food boxes with a variety of essentials. Aldi, Morrisons, and M&S each have boxes on offer containing items like rice, pasta, tinned foods, teabags, toilet tissue and more. These range from around £25 to around £45 and there are meat, fish, vegetarian, and Ramadan options available from some retailers. The food boxes can be ordered online for home delivery and typically contain enough to feed two adults for one week, though some are designed for families of four.
UK supermarkets are working to increase the availability of Click and Collect services. This would allow you or a loved one to place your order online and collect it from a designated point on the supermarket’s premises, usually without needing to go into the supermarket itself.
In the rare instance that your postcode is not covered by a delivery service, there is very likely a Click and Collect option available. The government advice for elderly and vulnerable people is to stay at home, so if you have a relative, friend, or neighbour who is able to collect the order and drop it off to you it would be better to place the order in their name and have them deliver your shopping to your doorstep.
Asda, M&S, and Waitrose are among supermarkets to have introduced volunteer shopping cards. These are similar to gift cards that can be purchased online and loaded with a sum of money — for example, Asda allows you to set up a card with any amount between £5 and £150. This card can be sent via email to a volunteer (this could be a relative, friend, or neighbour) who is less at risk and more able to go into the shop to do your shopping on your behalf. The volunteer uses the barcode on the email to pay, either by displaying it on their phone or displaying a printed paper copy.
It goes without saying that these are unprecedented times and we have all needed to adapt very quickly to new circumstances. Supermarkets are no exception. Across the board, retailers have increased the number of delivery slots and Click and Collect slots available to their customers. Several have put restrictions on essential items such as rice, pasta, frozen food, and household cleaning products to prevent shortages, although many of these restrictions are being lifted as demand begins to stabilise. There are people hard at work across the country to ensure that everyone can access the essential items they need without compromising their safety.
Help us, help the UK…
If you or anyone you know may be facing self-isolation alone during the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to our service to ensure that you or they are not alone and can get help if needed. We are all in this together and please stay safe!
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