After laying out plans in May to double the number of Waitrose.com slots in London with the opening of a second online fulfilment centre, Waitrose has announced a third such site. The new centre will significantly further increase the availability of delivery slots for customers in and around the capital.
The centre, in Greenford, West London, will be opened and operated with logistics company Wincanton plc – Britain’s largest third-party logistics provider. The joint approach builds on a 20 year relationship with Wincanton supplying operations for Waitrose shops – and will help ensure the site is up and running providing slots to customers as soon as possible, potentially as early as December of this year.
Once established, the centre will create 800 jobs for the local area, and will mean London shoppers will have the potential to choose from four-times as many Waitrose.com delivery slots compared to just the start of this year.
Across the country, Waitrose.com orders are mostly picked and delivered to customers from a network of Waitrose shops, covering nearly 90% of active UK postcodes. To help meet high demand in London, Waitrose already has dedicated online fulfilment centres in Coulsdon and Enfield (the latter opening last month, 7 May), which supplement Waitrose deliveries from selected shops in London. All Waitrose.com deliveries are free, with minimum order value £60 and one-hour slots throughout the day.
Waitrose has been rapidly expanding its online business in preparation for becoming the only place to buy Waitrose food online later this year. These expansion plans helped it respond as best it could to huge demand for online grocery shopping caused by Covid-19. The retailer has more than doubled the weekly slots that customers can book since the start of the year, to now handle more than 150,000 orders each week.
The retailer has committed that at least 25% of its orders go to vulnerable customers, and it will continue to prioritise vulnerable shoppers after Government shielding advice is relaxed.
Says Waitrose executive director James Bailey: “While we’ve already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can’t. This is especially the case in London, where we’ve seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”
In addition to its work to expand its main Waitrose.com service, the retailer has also more than trebled the size of its Rapid service to 7,000 orders per week in London and Brighton, with at least 40% of slots reserved for vulnerable customers. The Rapid service offers up to 25 products for delivery within two hours.