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Waitrose is trialling two-hour and same-day delivery services in partnership with retail delivery startup On the Dot.
The supermarket will give customers in London the opportunity to trial its new Waitrose Rapid Delivery service before potentially rolling it out to a larger area.
Customers will be able to choose up to 20 items to be delivered to them within two hours of their order or within a one-hour, same-day delivery slot.
Richard Ambler, head of business development at Waitrose & Partners, said: “Customers are increasingly wanting to buy whatever they want, when they want it. For many, we have moved away from the weekly supermarket visit to give us more fluidity with our busy lives and better control against over-buying and waste.
“Our trips to the supermarket are therefore much more frequent – Waitrose Rapid Delivery ensures we give our customers even greater flexibility and convenience to get their shopping as and when they want it.”
Choosing from these delivery options requires a minimum £10 spend, and will have a £5 delivery charge, but modern customers are often more concerned with convenience than with price.
Research by Waitrose found two-thirds of people regularly visit a supermarket more than once in the same day, and this trial is designed to cater to customers who want to shop “as and when”, as stated by Ambler.
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The supermarket also found that younger customers are more likely to regularly visit a supermarket twice a day, with those between the ages of 18 and 24 being twice as likely to exhibit this behaviour than those who are 55 and over.
Younger shoppers are challenging retailers to offer different types of services, with over half of millennial customers preferring online retailer information than in-store advice and a majority of younger shoppers wanting to purchase goods through social media platforms.
Waitrose partnering startup On the Dot, which is a spinoff of CitySprint Group and also partners with retailers such as ASOS, Currys PC World, Dixons and Wickes, uses vans and cargo bikes for its deliveries, which is estimated to save up to four tonnes of GHG emissions per year.
Santosh Sahu, CEO at On the Dot, said customers are increasingly choosing convenience shopping over traditional “big weekly shops”, often wanting regular fast deliveries of a small amount of items.
“The grocery sector is undergoing its biggest shift for decades – one where convenience and immediacy will win,” she said. “Customers want to take back control and remain informed on the status of their deliveries in real time. Waitrose & Partners has always put the customer first and this partnership recognises the influence that delivery has on a customer’s shopping experience.”
IT costs behind drops in profit
John Lewis, Waitrose’s parent company, has been struggling in the last few years, often citing IT costs and restructuring as a reason behind drops in profit.
But in 2018, Waitrose saw a 23% increase in online grocery sales and joined John Lewis for the annual JLab for the first time, in a bid to find retail startups which could help address some of the digital challenges currently faced by supermarkets.
Competition in the supermarket space is high – many are adopting technology to get ahead, with brands such as Marks and Spencer investing in data skills for its existing employees, and Argos launching a voice shopping capability.
Meanwhile, customers are becoming more fickle, not hesitating to shop with a different brand if they are not happy with a product or service, so in many cases, technology adoption can act as a differentiator for retailers who can then offer a better customer experience.