Asda is set to roll out robotically operated click & collect units that require no human supervision from next year.
Robotics will fulfil customer orders faster and more efficiently by organising and delivering produce to the correct customer “pod” in 60 seconds, while Asda drivers only need to visit to top-up stock, said Asda grocery e-commerce senior director Chris Conway.
“It’s a version of ‘concierge click & collect’, almost a vending machine approach,” Conway added.
“Traditionally, a locker can only hold a minimum number of orders; this unit holds much more, and allows one interface for the customer.”
The automated units will maintain different temperature zones for different products and customers will access their shop by scanning a QR code or typing in an order number.
The first unit is due in the North West in February and will be followed by sites across the South East. The number of units to be launched will be confirmed early next year, depending on land acquisition.
The retailer has acquired the technology from Dutch operator superdirect.com and is developing the units with the logistics firm that worked with superdirect.com, Viscon Group.
“We are still designing Asda’s collection points, so the exact size and scale cannot be confirmed yet,” said Viscon general manager Wouter van den Berg.
“But customers, depending on their need, will each be able to collect up to five boxes of products from the units and Asda can refill stock multiple times a day - however often is needed.”
Shoppers at Asda.com can currently place orders as late as 1pm to collect after 4pm but the supermarket is working on reducing this time difference still further, Conway said.