Coronavirus: Waitrose to trial groceries on Deliveroo as pandemic accelerates changes to retail

Waitrose is teaming up with Deliveroo so it can deliver groceries in just 30 minutes, with a retail expert telling Sky News that coronavirus could change the way we shop for good.

The supermarket chain is making more than 500 of its food and drink products available on the delivery app as part of a 12-week trial.

Waitrose customers in Bracknell, Berkshire, and Clifton, Bristol, will be able to order on Deliveroo from 1 September, said a spokesman.

People who live near the chain’s Surbiton and Notting Hill stores in London, and its Fitzroy Street outlet in Cambridge, will get the same service from 3 September, they added.

Kate Hardcastle, consumer and retail expert, told Sky News the move is one of many brand partnerships emerging in the UK to rival Amazon‘s food service – Amazon Fresh.

She said the supermarket model was already moving online before coronavirus hit, but the pandemic has “pressed fast-forward” on those changes.

“The way we are buying groceries is changing significantly,” she said.

“Amazon is a huge disruptor to the market. We have Amazon Fresh in the UK now and Wholefoods in the US, which is supported by Amazon’s Prime scheme.

“That’s the model we’re heading towards. But because of COVID-19, we have seen in weeks, changes we would have seen in years.

“People are buying a lot more online, so organisations are investigating how to satisfy that demand. To make their money go further – brands are buddying up to scale up their online services.”

Ms Hardcastle added that with more people going freelance and self-employed during the outbreak, customers are increasingly prioritising time over money.

But there will be a fallout for the High Street, she said.

She continued: “There is what we call the neighbouring effect. This will have a huge impact on other shops nearby in terms of a drop in footfall.

“But we have to be realistic, we’re going through huge changes in retail and we can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

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Waitrose already has a two-hour home delivery service, Waitrose Rapid, which now has more than 23,000 customers.

But the new partnership will expand on that, executive director James Bailey said.

“We have laid down a marker for our future strategy with the growth of Waitrose.com and Waitrose Rapid and this gives us another opportunity to give our customers a taste of what the future of convenience shopping could look like for us,” he added.

“Our trial with Deliveroo has huge potential to give new and existing customers greater choice and flexibility for when and how they want to shop with Waitrose.”

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