Arca Blanca with Ocado

From UK grocer to global platform provider

Today, in the UK, we all know Ocado as one of our most successful online supermarkets. Its warehouses, or Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs), are the most technically advanced in the world. Thousands of robots – with just half a centimetre between them – work amongst a three-dimensional grid system, known as the “hive”, all controlled by a system akin to an air- traffic control.

It’s not a supermarket as we know them. Instead, they might be more accurately labelled as a tech company, for Ocado has now sold this sophisticated delivery platform to leading grocers across the world – known as the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) – marking their shift from UK online grocer, to global technology solutions provider. A change from having three CFCs in one country, to over 30 CFCs across 10 different time zones, with clients ranging from Coles in Australia to Kroger in the US. Which, inevitably, requires a new, unique and incredibly robust operating model.

Arca Blanca needed to design an operating model that would allow Ocado to grow as fast as possible – to become 10 times its size – whilst still retaining its innovative and unique culture that would deliver best -in-class solutions to its new supermarket clients across the world.

For us, as consultants, there was a further challenge. Ocado doesn’t operate in conventional ways, it ripped up the rule book a long time ago. Innovation is as innovation does. Meaning the pressure was firmly on for Arca Blanca to do likewise.

And so, we did; creating a totally unique design-process that would enable the joint design of Ocado’s operating model between client and consultant, equipping them to understand, own and steer their rapid transformation from UK grocer to global platform provider.

However, there was much to do. How could we possibly design an operating model for Ocado’s new clients if we didn’t know how their commercial contracts were structured? This and hundreds of other questions like it, needed answers. We needed to see first-hand the collaborative spirit in which Ocado worked with their clients which would then influence the design and implementation of the platform they would then go on to provide them with.

Our iterative design process was scenario based and designed to enhance collaborative thinking, without being overly formal and alien to Ocado’s working culture.

The operating model for the entire Ocado Group was reviewed, refined and redesigned to ensure its future- proof and flexibility. Ocado is now operationally able to increase its business tenfold, as a new platform provider, thanks to its unique and innovative operating model and the first Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) clients will go live soon, if not already live by now.

“As an ex-consultant I know consultants pretty well, as well as from the client side, and I can truly say, I have never worked with consultants like Arca Blanca before. they are so passionate about doing the right thing for the client and immediately operated as part of the Ocado team, going above and beyond anything in the contract to ensure success of both the transformation and my personal development.”

Tory Araujo, Transformation Director


View the Arca Blanca profile in the MCA Members Directory