Co-op trials autonomous home delivery robots

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UK food retail business Co-op has expanded its ‘quick convenience’ delivery service with a walking delivery trial and autonomous home delivery robots.

The robots were implemented in Cambridge in partnership with robotics company Starship Technologies, to support Cambridgeshire County Council’s environmental agenda, which includes a focus on reducing short car journeys and improving air quality in communities. During the trial, shoppers have used the service for top-up shopping, forgotten items and meals for evenings at home. Users of the service have included vulnerable or housebound residents, and parents of young children attracted by the convenience of quick home delivery.

The company is also trialling ‘walking deliveries’ for households and workplaces up to a 15-minute walk from its stores. The rollout is expected to include smaller towns and rural villages often considered ‘off-line’ by other rapid home delivery providers who have a focus on dense urban hubs. These trials form part of the company’s plans to grow its online business in 2022 by a further 50% to £300m (US$377m), scaling at pace with online ‘quick convenience’ now available from approximately 2,000 stores.

Chris Conway, e-commerce director of Co-op, said, “Making shopping quick, easy and convenient for our members and customers is at the very heart of our approach. Our aim is to be the most convenient home delivery service and we continue to innovate to meet the needs of consumers. Co-op stores across the country are well placed to serve shoppers locally, and a key part of our strategy is to develop our e-commerce offer using the competitive advantage of our store footprint to provide fast home deliveries, click and collect and added services. We know that as a convenience retailer, the ability to pop into a local Co-op will always be important to customers, but we also know that time-pressed shoppers also want flexible options online. So we continue to work to meet customer needs, however and wherever they choose to shop with us.”

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