Waitrose gears up for eco-friendly online delivery service

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 21st July 2008

Online grocery retail has proven incredibly successful in the UK in recent years and has already been touted as an environmentally-friendly option – as it could reduce traffic on the road. Waitrose, however, has taken the next step by becoming the first major UK retailer to use bicycles to deliver groceries to the homes of its online customers.

Employees from the food shop’s branch in Cambridge branch will be ‘saddling up’ to make deliveries using an eco-bicycle and trailer. The move is designed to increase the number of delivery slots available for online customers without increasing the number of vans on the road.

The specially designed trailer has the capacity to hold six trays full of groceries and will be able to keep products frozen and chilled for up to two hours. Initially it will have a maximum distance charge of 30 miles meaning that 15 miles is the longest delivery it will be able to make.

Deliveries will be made by branch Partners (as all employees of the John Lewis Partnership are known) who have been in training by cycling to and from work. Fortunately, they will receive some support while pedaling around the city as the bicycle comes with electronic pedal assistance.

Waitrose Retail Director, Tony Solomons, advised that the eco-delivery service could be extended to more branches if successful. “Waitrose is committed to saving energy and minimising its impact on the environment and we are always looking for new ways to achieve this,” he said. “This will truly be a bespoke service for Waitrose customers and, if successful, we will look at rolling it out to other branches.”

Cambridge has been selected to trial the eco-bike as the city is suited to cyclists.

In January, Waitrose in Cambridge teamed up with Cambridge City Council to provide shopping trailers to allow cyclists to transport their shopping home. Equipped with large canvas shopping bags, the trailers are loaned out for a day free of charge to Waitrose and John Lewis Account Cardholders and Partnership Account Cardholders.