Grocer Waitrose & Partners has today unveiled the trial of a new service that brings a whole new level of convenience (and trust) to online deliveries – allowing drivers access to your home when you are out.
The upmarket supermarket, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, is testing demand for the new service, which is called 'While You’re Away', with 100 customers located within the delivery area of its dotcom fulfilment centre in Coulsdon, south London.
Using Yale smart lock technology, the customer grants access to a Waitrose & Partners delivery driver by setting a temporary access code for the lock which is then sent to Waitrose & Partners via a secure app. The code is then sent to the driver’s device at the time the customer has booked for the delivery and is deleted once the delivery is complete.
The driver will put refrigerated and frozen goods away and leave other groceries on the kitchen counter, or as instructed by the customer. The whole delivery is captured on a chest-cam worn by the driver, with the video available for request for the customer the next working day.
There is a minimum order of £25 and given the small number of customers involved at this stage, there is a minimum number of six orders, however this will be reviewed after the trial, Waitrose has said.
If the trial is successful, Waitrose & Partners anticipates being able to make the service available to more than 1,000 customers in spring 2019.
Archie Mason, head of business development from Waitrose & Partners, said of the initiative: 'There is certainly an increasing demand among our customers to make shopping with us even more convenient to fit around their busy lifestyles.
"Rather than waiting for a delivery or trying to put everything away, it gives customers more flexibility to use that time differently, including more time enjoying cooking and eating the food they've bought. The concept of 'in-home delivery' has started to prove popular in other countries so we are keen to establish if there is an appetite for it in the UK."
Nigel Fisher, Managing Director for Yale UK, added: "Working with Waitrose & Partners to develop the UK’s first in-home delivery service is an exciting premise for Yale, as we look to understand how smart products can enhance daily lives, as well as protecting your home. Our heritage and priority is in security, but the technologies we’re now working with means we can also collaborate with companies, like Waitrose, to also develop services that fit with modern life."
While the delivery of fashion does not have the same challenges of that of refrigerated or frozen food, such a service might be useful for the delivery of high value items when a customer is not at home. Some online retailers will allow customers to release goods from couriers by giving permission for them to be left in a safe place at their own risk, while some luxury brands will only allow goods to be delivered if the recipient is there in person to sign for them.
Allowing couriers to leave such items inside the house would increase the rate of successful deliveries and eliminate the frustration of customers missing the arrival of their parcels. Expecting couriers to unpack the clothes and hang them in your wardrobe may be, however, a step too far, though in the bid for extreme convenience, we wouldn't rule anything out.