Sainsbury's is to take down its groceries website down for "routine maintenance" work for more than two days from next Friday, in a move that could cost it more than £1m of lost revenue and hit its reputation among customers.
In an email sent to customers, Tanya Lawler, Sainsbury's director of online, said that during the maintenance work between 11pm 27 February and 6am 2 March the site will be unavailable and customers will not be able to shop for groceries online, amend or cancel an order already placed.
The maintenance work follows an earlier glitch in June 2008, when Sainsbury's grocery website was unavailable for about four days.
Ms Lawler added: "The maintenance also means that our helpline colleagues will be unable to place, amend or cancel an order for you during this time."
However, Sainsbury's vehemently denied speculation that it was internally expecting its website to be down for a minimum of one week. If it was down for more than a week, Sainsbury's could lose sales of up to £10m – which does not include customers who may vote with their feet and switch to rivals.
Sainsbury's delivers groceries to more than 90,000 customers a week, who spend an average of about £80 a transaction. The weekend is one of the busiest times for customers who often plan their weekly shopping on Saturday and Sunday.
The timing of Sainsbury's taking down its website is unfortunate, as both Asda and Tesco are poised to relaunch their own grocery websites. Sainsbury's said its non-food website was unaffected by the maintenance work.
Sainsbury's customers will not be able to receive their grocery deliveries on 28 February, 1 March and until noon on 2 March.Reuse content