Albert Heijn suffers a run of bad luck

Albert Heijn

Dutch grocery retailer Albert Heijn (AH) has had a tough few weeks. First there was a problem with the website which meant that some customers couldn’t order their groceries online. Then there was a fire in the distribution centre (DC) in Tilburg which severely impacted deliveries. To make matters worse, the retailer also suffered a data leak that resulted in some customers’ online accounts becoming accessible to other customers.

On the morning of 23 September, a problem with the website prevented some customers from placing grocery orders online for several hours. The glitch, which caused the website to display ‘temporarily sold out’ for the chosen products, turned out to be the result of an IT problem. This was embarrassing for Albert Heijn, which is investing heavily in e-commerce and is steadily increasing its capacity to 220,000 orders per week in 2021.

Major delivery problems due to fire

The fire at the DC in Tilburg on 14 October was even worse. The blaze started in the cabin of a truck in the docking area and caused considerable damage, including the loss of 8,000 pallets of fresh produce. This led to severe delivery problems, with around 120 branches of the supermarket suffering shortages of fruit, vegetables and dairy products for more than a week. Experts estimate that AH lost millions as a result of the fire. Or, as retail expert Paul Moers put it, “Albert Heijn is hurting like hell”.

Data leak

And then there was a data leak on 16 October, when maintenance work on the IT system resulted in a number of customers’ accounts becoming accessible to other customers that day. AH did not receive any complaints from customers about unauthorized access to their accounts, but one customer reported being able to view another customer’s data. Albert Heijn warned its customers to be alert to spam and phishing activities. The grocery retailer also pledged to investigate the incident in depth and to take steps to prevent a recurrence.