Waitrose will provide additional shopping points for its ecommerce consumers in London.
High-end retail brand Waitrose has announced the company is set to double the amount of shipping slots it offers to its online buyers in London.
The company currently offers online shipping appointments for its customers out of its London branches and a bespoke dot com fulfilment centre (DFC) in Acton. However, the firm has now announced plans to invest in a second DFC in Coulsdon, which will open from autumn next year.
Waitrose has witnessed a considerable surge in its ecommerce business in the last 12 months, with the sector now making up 20 per cent of the retailers overall sales within the M25 area.
Aiming to create an additional 500 jobs and providing a considerable boost to customer flexibility in terms of delivery times, the new Coulsdon depot will feature a fleet of bespoke Waitrose vans, fitted specifically for delivering goods to online shoppers.
Consumers will be able to choose from one-hour delivery slots between 06:00 and midnight, with the goods being delivered free of charge on purchases of more than £50.
It builds on the retailer’s ‘dark store’ model, which it has already employed at Acton, to enable employees to pick out items purchased by consumers much as they would in a traditional Waitrose branch.
The firm believes this model creates efficiencies in picking, restocking and logistics, and ensures orders can be fulfilled as quickly as possible.
Waitrose retail director Rob Collins commented: “Demand from Waitrose.com shoppers in the capital has soared over the last year. Our dotcom fulfilment centre in Acton will reach capacity in 2014, and we have been looking for the right location for a second for some time.
“The DFC in Coulsdon provides the perfect, purpose-built site for us to take what we have learnt from Acton and step our online operation up a gear.”
Mcommerce is a fast-growing sector for Waitrose at present, with its new facility hoping to achieve a 50 per cent improvement in both items picked per hour by staff and in drops per van made per week.
It is a timely boost for the retailer, as it witnessed a 40.6 per cent upturn in ecommerce sales in the first six months of 2013 alone.
The news follows the recent publication of the new eCustomerServiceIndex from e-retail consultancy IMRG, which revealed online shoppers across the UK are set to embrace the world of mobile commerce this festive season.
It revealed 96 per cent of UK consumers plan to make at least one online purchase this Christmas to bolster their season gift-giving, while a hardcore 48 per cent of the more than 2,000 respondents said they will make more than half of all their buys online.
Mobile devices will also feature far more prominently in the spending habits of shoppers than in the previous years, as this technology has been embraced by consumers up and down the country.
Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG, concluded: “It is little wonder that such a high percentage of people (64 per cent) say they are planning to do more shopping through their phones this Christmas; we’ve seen sales through mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – grow rapidly over the past few years.”