Waitrose will launch a new drive-through click and collect service as part of a wider multimillion pound investment in its multichannel operations.
Complementing existing services
Waitrose will open its first drive-through collection point in Cheltenham in March, followed by drive-throughs in Southend, Salisbury, Wolverhampton and Lincoln. Shoppers will be able to pick up online orders in the branch car park at designated timeslots. The service will be offered to shoppers at no additional cost and is designed to complement existing in-store collection services, available in 157 stores, by offering a greater level of choice to shoppers. The drive-through service will be rolled out further based on customer feedback.
In addition to drive-through collection points, Waitrose will also trial a number of self-service pods by the end of the year. The retailer has not yet disclosed the locations of these pods, but it has implied that they will be at non-store sites. The pods will be unlocked using a code that is issued to customers when the online order is placed. They will have chambers of various temperatures to allow shoppers to pick up ambient, chilled and frozen goods from the pods. The pods will give shoppers even more flexibility in terms of when and where they collect their online orders.
Offering convenient solution
Waitrose is targeting time poor shoppers, by increasing the flexibility of online order collections. Robin Phillips, ecommerce director at Waitrose, said "This investment marks a turning point in our ambitions to become a truly omnichannel retailer. The introduction of drive-throughs and, later this year, collection pods gives time-pressed customers even greater choice about how to receive orders made through Waitrose.com. The free service will appeal to busy parents with kids in tow as well as young professionals".
The future of click and collect
Click and collect has become the focus of much investment across the industry as retailers look to deliver increasingly convenient solutions for shoppers. At Waitrose, it is a particularly powerful tool as it also operates a click and collect service for John Lewis department stores, at 194 branches. To date, 43% of John Lewis click and collect orders are picked up in a Waitrose store, showing what a powerful footfall driver the service is. John Lewis is also also trialling a new scheme from Autumn 2013 that will give shoppers the choice of collecting and returning online orders through 5,000 local convenience stores, in partnership with CollectPlus. This shows the potential scale of click and collect operations for Waitrose and as it looks to integrate its multichannel services across both Waitrose.com and John Lewis, it is vital that suppliers keep on top of online developments.
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