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Local traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market trial apps to allow local home delivery

Hermes helps OnBuy extend delivery options for its merchants

Independent traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market are the first to trial the ability to offer home delivery to their local community thanks to a pair of apps developed by Hermes.

The two apps to support the service have been developed by the Hermes’ Innovation Lab who are based in Leeds and are focussed on developing new products and services to drive the home delivery market forward. The app for retailers enables them to book new deliveries and track them throughout their journey. A different app for the riders shows the collections to be made, the best route to take and navigates them using cycle paths wherever possible.

Deliveries will be made same day by dedicated Hermes’ employees on eco-friendly, zero emission bikes and will be free for retailers and consumers in the first phase.

Leeds Kirkgate Market has been the city’s essential shopping destination for over a century and is one of the biggest indoor markets in Europe working with local independent businesses in the city since 1857. The latest lockdown guidance has seen some of the retailers unable to trade and others suffering from reduced footfall.

Panda Refills, a zero-waste stall located in Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the first businesses to sign up with Hermes to start the free delivery trial. Aimee Charlotte, a buyer at Panda Refills, explains: “This is exactly what we needed to get our products to customers who cannot come into the city centre at the moment.”

Hermes is keen for other traders to sign up to the service which will enable them to offer delivery to most areas within the outer ring road of Leeds city centre. Orders will be made through the traders’ own social channels, websites or by phone.

Adrian Berry, Innovation Delivery Manager at Hermes UK, explains: “We started designing the service last year after realising that very few local independent shops were set up to offer a delivery service. We wanted to help support the local community in which we work and where many of us live, and enable vulnerable and shielding customers, as well as those city-based office workers currently working from home. to continue to buy from their local retailers in a more sustainable way.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment adds: “This is a great opportunity for our independent businesses to provide a delivery service for their customers who may not be able to visit the city at the moment.  It’s providing our traders a platform to be able to adapt their business for existing and new customers.”

Going local

The move comes as separate research shows that a dearth of online delivery slots is seeing shoppers head to their local stores and markets to stock up.

The trend was identified by NearSt, analysing local product search data for England, Scotland and Wales between 1 March 2020 and 10 January 2021 through its platform. It is a measure of people looking to find products in local shops that are showing stock in-store in places like Google.

NearSt, estimates up to 6.3 million Uk shoppers boomeranged back to local high streets during March, June and November last year and January 2021 during periods when delivery shortages were at a high. 

Within a couple of hours of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech to the nation on Monday January 4th, shoppers reported problems with Sainsbury’s and Tesco. This continued until 7th as reports of a month long wait for a delivery slot on Ocado emerged. That sparked an 20% surge of shoppers searching online for goods locally and heading to their closest high street store to search for kitchen cupboard essentials.

The biggest hike in searches was between 13 and 31 March 2020 when the implementation of the first lockdown in March and the alarming trend of ‘panic-buying’ proved to be a trigger for the first collapse in store’s online delivery systems.

Local stores who’ve been fighting an uphill battle against online behemoths, benefitted from a staggering 180 per cent rise in the number of people checking for product availability in physical stores close by. Beer, wine and gin were common searches along with flour and baking soda cementing that Brits embarked on a nationwide bake-off to keep their spirits up.

Co-founder NearSt Nick Brackenbury explains: “Securing a coveted delivery slot at times as the pandemic has unfolded has been as competitive as clinching that coveted Glastonbury ticket in a pre-Covid world. Millions of consumers have shifted their behaviour online in the past twelve months, driving a spike in ecommerce sales. But it’s easy to confuse behaviours moving online with actual purchases moving online. While online shopping has soared throughout 2020, many are overlooking the more dramatic growth in local search, which is really encouraging news for high streets. As we actively seek to reduce unnecessary outings and browsing time in shops to mitigate the risk of catching COVID, coupled with our insatiable appetite to ‘have things now’ mean the demand to find and confirm things are in shops locally has swelled significantly as a result.”

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