In-home delivery: taking on Amazon

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Supermarket chain Waitrose has announced its new in-home and to-the-fridge grocery delivery service. Ian Kerr (Postal Hub Podcast) and Marek Różycki (Last Mile Experts) analyze this and other leading grocery delivery services from the likes of PostNord and Amazon

UK grocery chain Waitrose is set to become the UK’s first supermarket to deliver groceries to customers inside the home and put them away while they are out.

The retailer will initially test demand for the new service – called ‘While You’re Away’ – with 100 customers located within the delivery area of its South London fulfilment center.

The service allows a customer with Yale smart lock technology to set a temporary access code that is sent to Waitrose via a secure app. The code is then sent to the driver’s device at the time the customer has booked for the delivery and is deleted once the delivery is complete.

The driver will put refrigerated and frozen goods away and leave other groceries on the kitchen counter, or as instructed by the customer. The whole delivery is captured on a chest-cam worn by the driver, and the customer can request the video the next working day.

There is a minimum order of £25 (US$33). If the trial is successful, Waitrose anticipates being able to make the service available to more than 1,000 customers in spring 2019.

Inspired by PostNord?

PostNord is one of the leaders in this field, and has trialled in-home and to-the-fridge delivery. In 2016 the Swedish postal operator teamed with ‘smart home’ startup Glue and ICA, Sweden’s largest grocery chain, to offer home delivery (including in-fridge delivery) of groceries, even when the customer isn’t at home. Waitrose’s offering is almost identical to the PostNord project.

Amazon Key and grocery delivery

Last year Amazon launched Amazon Key, which enables customers to remotely give delivery drivers and other service personnel access to their home.

Amazon Key is available to Prime subscribers in select US cities. Unlike Waitrose’s system, Amazon Key requires more than just a smart lock and an app. Customers have to purchase the Amazon Key Home Kit, which includes a smart lock and an Amazon Cloud Cam security camera, to use the service.

Customers receive alerts through the Amazon Key app about upcoming deliveries and can watch the delivery in real time on their phone. Amazon also records and saves video clips of each delivery for review.

So while Amazon requires customers to have more electronic gadgets than Waitrose, customers are able to watch the delivery in real time instead of the day after.

And of course Amazon has acquired smart lock company Ring, meaning it has a fantastic grip on this kind of service. Imagine: customers could even interact with delivery drivers using Ring and Alexa to tell the driver where to put the groceries.

What about Uber?

Uber reportedly is preparing to re-enter the delivery scene, this time focusing on grocery delivery.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said given the success in the delivery of its Uber Eats food delivery service, the next logical step is to enter the grocery space. This is despite a recent grocery delivery trial with Walmart being ditched after three months.

Does Uber have any advantages over its competitors, including Instacart, Postmates and Amazon? Right now it seems that Amazon has the leading technology and customer experience offering.

Why is this exciting?

Other than the obvious customer benefits relating to the convenience of items being delivered to your fridge or kitchen worktop, there is a real last-mile advantage in this new in-home delivery service – there is zero risk of a failed delivery, assuming of course that the technology works.

We like this concept and can see its potential. In some markets there will be local factors such as cultural issues or crime levels that mean customers may be less willing to open up their homes to strangers, despite all the additional safety elements.


Marek Różycki is managing partner at Last Mile Experts, specializing in CEP and e-commerce last-mile advisory.



Ian Kerr is the founder and host of the Postal Hub Podcast, the weekly podcast for the postal and delivery sectors.



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