Co-op expands robotic delivery service to five new towns and cities

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Co-op and Starship Technologies have announced plans to extend their partnership, adding new robots to take the total fleet to 500 autonomous vehicles across the UK, while launching robotic delivery services in five new towns and cities.

The convenience retailer – the first major UK supermarket to use robots for home delivery – will increase its robot fleet by over 300 vehicles by the end of the year, increasing Co-op’s offer of on-demand convenience and helping to further reduce carbon emissions on last-mile deliveries.

The robots will make deliveries in five new towns and cities, with Upper Cambourne in Cambridgeshire the next location after Co-op and Starship first launched the emission-free autonomous delivery service in Milton Keynes in 2018, and Northampton in 2020.

Shoppers can choose from over 3,000 grocery items, which are delivered in as soon as 20 minutes through the Starship Food Delivery app. Once users have selected their items, they then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app.

Recent research from Starship has shown that close to 70% of the company’s customers forgo driving to a store or receiving a delivery from a fuel-powered vehicle in favour of robot delivery, supporting Co-op’s aim of ensuring all of its home deliveries are zero emission by 2025..

Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies, said: “We are pleased to extend our hugely successful collaboration with Co-op and bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to thousands more people across the UK.

“More and more people are realising that it doesn’t make sense to drive to the store for ‘top up’ groceries when the hassle can be removed through autonomous, contactless and environmentally friendly delivery. Ultimately, we want to save time and money for our customers, and make their lives easier in a sustainable way.”

Co-op’s online offer has rolled-out at pace since the launch of its own online shop less than three years ago. Through its own vehicles, such as electric vans and e-cargo bikes, or with partners such as Deliveroo and Pinga, almost 2,000 of its stores in towns, cities and villages across the UK will be in catchment areas for either online home delivery or click-and-collect by the end of 2021.

All orders are picked fresh from Co-op stores in the community, which act as micro-distribution hubs locally so that high streets can benefit from increases in online demand.

Chris Conway, head of e-commerce, Co-op, said: “Our focus is to continue to innovate and look for new and better ways to do business in our communities while expanding access to our products and services.

“In addition to offering quality and value quickly, easily and conveniently, we need to do this sustainably, and by working collaboratively with Starship and other partners with shared values we can ensure we further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something that is essential if we are to have a healthy and sustainable natural environment to pass on to future generations.”

Earlier this year Co-op announced a 10-point climate plan setting out its blueprint to achieve net zero for its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2040.

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