Autonomous delivery robots are being rolled-out to communities across Milton Keynes and surrounding towns and villages as Co-op responds to increased consumer demand for so-called robo-shopping.
The convenience retailer became the first to trial same-day autonomous robot deliveries in the UK when it partnered with Starship Technologies in April 2018 to offer the emission-free online home delivery service.
Co-op has reportedly seen the number of customers using robot deliveries more than double since the start of lockdown, with the value of transactions increasing four-fold as shopping habits change.
The service has now been made available in eight Co-op stores, with six new stores added since March.
With Starship waiving its delivery charge – which ranges from £1.49 to £2.49 according to distance travelled – for NHS workers during the lockdown, the robots were also programmed to pause at 8pm on Thursday evenings in order to ‘thank’ and ‘recognise’ carers and key workers.
The move was originally intended to offer additional choice, ease and convenience for time-pressed shoppers.
However, according to Co-op, the delivery service soon became a ‘lifeline’ for vulnerable or housebound members of the community.
Co-op has also increased the range of products available through robot delivery, with shoppers now able to select from around 1,000 everyday essential products.
Jason Perry, head of online development, Co-op, said: “Quality, ease and convenience is at the core of our approach and we continue to innovate and expand access to our products online in order to offer greater flexibility and choice to meet consumer needs in our communities.”
Co-op announced earlier this year that it expects its same-day online delivery offer, including partnerships with Deliveroo, Buymie (in Bristol) and its own dedicated online shop, to be available from more than 650 of its stores in communities across the UK by the end of 2020.
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