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Waitrose trials in-fridge delivery to see if shoppers are ready for it

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Waitrose is trialling in-fridge delivery in a scheme that could set a new benchmark for how convenient delivery can be – and will test whether this approach is one that shoppers are ready for.

The supermarket is signing up 100 customers within delivery distance of its Coulsdon dotcom fulfilment centre in south London to try out its While You’re Away delivery service. 

Those who sign up will place their online order as usual, and then use Yale smart lock technology to set a temporary access code for the driver that is sent to Waitrose via a secure app. The driver receives the code at the time at which the customer has booked their delivery, and it is deleted once the delivery is complete. Once inside the home, the driver will put frozen and refrigerated goods away, and leave other groceries on the kitchen counter, or as instructed by the shopper.

The whole delivery is recorded using a chest cam that the driver wears, and the customer can see the video the next working day. 

Those taking part in the trial will be asked to spend at least £25 per order and to place at least six orders, although this will be reviewed after the trial. 

If it’s successful, Waitrose will look at extending the service to more than 1,000 customers next spring.

Archie Mason, head of business development at Waitrose & Partners, said: “There is certainly an increasing demand among our customers to make shopping with us even more convenient to fit around their busy lifestyles. Rather than waiting for a delivery or trying to put everything away, it gives customers more flexibility to use that time differently, including more time at home enjoying cooking and eating the food they’ve bought.

“The concept of ’in-home delivery has started to prove popular in other countries so we are keen to establish if there is an appetite for it in the UK.”

Nigel Fisher, managing director at Yale UK, said: Working with Waitrose & partners to develop the UK’s first in-home delivery service is an exciting premise for Yale, as we look to understand how smart products can enhance daily lives as well as protecting your home.”

Shoppers can see if they qualify for the trial – and register for it – at

The news comes soon after Waitrose announced its trial of a two-hour delivery service of up to 20 items for customers in certain London postcodes. It also fits with the service-driven retail which is now a key strategy for Waitrose and its sister department store John Lewis. 

Our view: This service is a first for the UK and will be interesting for retailers well beyond Waitrose’s competitors in that it will test whether shoppers here are ready to let people they don’t have a relationship with come into their homes unsupervised in order to receive a more convenient service. The emphasis is clearly on making that experience a secure one in order to encourage shoppers to trust the retailer and its processes. If enough shoppers feel comfortable with it, they stand to gain from deliveries that are certainly more convenient than waiting in for a delivery or going to pick up their shopping from the store. 

However, inevitably, there’s a certain amount of friction in setting up the service in the first place. Shoppers will need to have a Yale smart lock, worth around £200, fitted to their door. That will only work with certain types of lock. And while it’s free for those taking part in the trial,  it’s not clear whether future shoppers would pay for it. While You’re Away will be free for shoppers taking part in the trial – but one of the questions being asked during the course of it must be how much shoppers will be willing to pay for the service in the future. 

Image courtesy of Waitrose

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