Co-op expands fast-convenience rollout with new walking deliveries & rising robot use

Co-op has today announced the further expansion of its convenience-led food delivery service as quick-commerce is catapulted into a new channel in its own right and busy consumers return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

Co-op has unveiled goals to grow its online business by a further 50% to £300M by the end of this year, with online services now available at more than 2,000 of its stores in towns, villages and cities across the UK.

With estimates of the quick-commerce channel becoming worth up to £3.3Bn in the UK alone*, Co-op is expanding its online offer at pace through both its own online shop – which first launched in 2019 - and innovative partnerships.

In its latest Convenience Report, entitled ‘Rapid delivery – meals in minutes from store to door’, Co-op has revealed the next ‘step’ in its rapid roll-out of online ‘quick convenience’ by becoming the first UK supermarket to launch ‘walking deliveries’ for households and workplaces up to a 15 minute walk from its stores.

Expected to operate from 200 stores this year following successful trials in Cornwall, the move will enable Co-op to bring home delivery to more communities.

The trial has seen shoppers use the service for top-up shopping, forgotten items and treats and meals for evenings at home, with users including a resident who is housebound following surgery, and parents of young children attracted by the ease and convenience of quick home delivery.

The roll-out is expected to include smaller towns and rural villages often considered ‘off-line’ by rapid home delivery providers who have a focus on dense urban hubs.

Rising use of robots also forms a key part of Co-op’s plans, with the autonomous home delivery robots taking to the streets of Cambridge for the first time this week in partnership with Starship Technologies, a move which also supports Cambridgeshire County Council’s environmental agenda which includes a focus on reducing short car journeys and improving air quality in communities.

Co-op was the first UK supermarket to partner with Starship with robot deliveries now a familiar sight in Milton Keyes – where they were first launched - and, Northampton.

The community retailer is using the strategic advantage of its store locations to grow its online offer with groceries picked fresh and delivered locally from stores which act as micro-distribution hubs in the community, an approach which ensures the High Street stores benefit from increased online demand.

Chris Conway, Co-op’s eCommerce Director, 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 ecommerce 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 they want flexible options online, and so we continue to work to meet customer needs, however, and wherever they choose to shop with us.”

Co-op has recorded more than 36 consecutive months of online growth since first entering the category in early 2019. The retailer now operates online services from over 2,000 locations, with its stores acting as micro distribution hubs in communities.

Its on-demand convenience model has been scaled at pace through both its own online shop – shop.coop.co.uk – which offers home delivery and click and collect, and with partners including: Deliveroo – where Co-op is the most widely available supermarket on the Deliveroo app with over 1,000 stores; Amazon Prime and, autonomous robot deliveries with Starship Technologies.