ASDA is looking at expanding its “click-and-collect” delivery service to business parks, universities, train stations and park-and-ride schemes as it explores new ways to help customers shop until they drop.
The Leeds-based supermarket giant will launch the service at a park-and-ride scheme later this year in Nottingham as part of a £700m investment this year to accelerate its multi-channel business.
The service will allow commuters to order online and pick up their shopping from a delivery van when they return to their vehicles after work.
Kieran Shanahan, multi-channel operations director, said it could be extended to train stations and other transport hubs.
“When you jump off the train to go home you could collect your groceries from us and be on your way,” he added.
Asda’s click-and-collect service has surpassed expectations and now accounts for four per cent of all grocery home shopping orders since launching last autumn.
Its growth has been fuelled by the increasing use of smartphones which allow consumers to shop on the move.
Mr Shanahan said click and collect can be as big as the home delivery service.
“That’s because of the way I see customers respond to it,” he added. “In areas of the country where perhaps my fulfilment capacity has reached its peak because I have not got any more stores to pick from, it opens up more capacity for me to be able to deliver to more customers.”
He said that Asda’s 15-year-old home delivery service is profitable and has been for several years. Some 12,000 staff pick 10 million items a week from 200 stores to support the service, while delivery vans drive nearly one million miles a week.
Asda is developing refrigerated lockers with frozen and fridge compartments for deployment at new click-and-collect locations. It is already trialling a locker system for general merchandise and clothing at a petrol station in Sale, Manchester.
Asda is investing in infrastructure to support click and collect across its estate. Shoppers are able to use the service at nearly 100 stores; this will rise to 250 by the end of the year.
Andy Clarke, chief executive, said: “By focusing on their needs through accelerating our investment in the technology and infrastructure to make shopping more convenient, customers can shop for what they want, when they want it.”
Asda is using the latest drive-through technology at its click and collect service in York.
Customers order online, drive to the store, scan their phone at the kiosk, alerting staff in-store who bring out their shopping to load into the car.
“We are pushing ourselves to be able to get customers through in less than four minutes so you can have a full grocery shop that might have taken an hour previously in the boot of the car within four or five minutes,” said Mr Shanahan.
He said the retailer tries to make shopping as convenient as possible for customers. More than two million people have downloaded the Asda app, reflecting the growth in mobile.
He said: “If you are shopping on the phone you can top up your basket and complete your order on the website on the laptop or you can do the whole lot on the phone. That convenience really resonates with customers.”
Some customers order at 2am when the baby is crying; others shop while waiting for their children to come out of school, he added. “It stops it being an hour-long task,” he said.
Mr Shanahan added: “One of the things we put on the app in response to customer feedback was a barcode scanner.
“As you finish a box of cornflakes at breakfast time you can scan the box and it will add it straight to the basket for next week’s order.
“Some customers said they prefer a voice search, rather than having to type. It gets the Yorkshire accent.”
He said Asda’s parent Walmart studies the latest technology at its US innovation lab. The retailer has 20-30 staff in Leeds working on e-commerce technology.
Asked about the future of retail, Mr Shanahan said: “I haven’t got a crystal ball, but what I can say is whoever is doing things the most conveniently, still giving customers the best prices as we do and delivering service alongside value, I think will be the ones who are doing the right things.
“There will be an element of customers driving this and leading us in the direction they want to go. But equally we have to keep testing and learning to bring customers new concepts and ideas.”