Ocado could be set to target the top-up market with smaller, faster deliveries.
In the last month the online grocer applied to the Intellectual Property Office for three new trademarks that point towards a potential new offer. The applicants are for the slogans “Ocado Zoom”, “Let the shop pop to you” and “Ocado, changing the way the world shops”.
The online supermarket currently has a minimum £40 spend and no click & collect service, while online retail analysts say potential for significant growth lies in encouraging the smaller basket.
Analysts have said the trademarks could reveal plans to seize that potential with either a high-speed delivery service or an Amazon Treasure Truck-style model, bringing a limited selection of items to places convenient for local collection.
The IPO office lists goods and services for which Ocado is seeking to secure the trademarks. In each case they include “vehicles, cars, vans, delivery vans” and “delivery of goods, transportation of goods, transportation logistics, distribution of goods”, among other things.
Bryan Roberts, global insights director at TCC Global, tweeted images of the “Ocado Zoom” and “Let the shop pop to you” trademarks, adding: “Sounds like fun.”
Roberts said “pop to you” could even refer to something like Robomart, a self-driving fresh produce store revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
“I guess what I inferred from them was some sort of ultra-rapid delivery for Zoom, while for ‘pop to you’ my best guess was something like Robomart,” he told The Grocer.
“They both speak to the fact that Ocado is constantly innovating and obviously has an eye on fulfilment and self-driving developments in China, the USA and elsewhere.”
LZ Retailytics senior analyst Lisa Byfield-Green said the expense of the last mile of grocery delivery was an obstacle to high-speed smaller baskets, but that the trademarks may refer to mobile stores targeting click and collect or the convenience shop.
“A challenge of that is the cost of serving those shoppers because the last mile in delivering groceries is really expensive, so if your basket is small the cost is really high - so they need to find some innovative ways of doing that,” she said.
“If they were taking vans around and they were going to be in certain places at certain times of day, and everybody knew about them and could go and pick up items, maybe that would be a way of making it work.
“They might have come up with something quite creative. It might be an Amazon Treasure Truck-type thing.”
She added: “Maybe they’re looking at something to do with work places, or with being in certain places at certain times for people to come and pick up their orders. There are loads of opportunities where people congregate at certain times of day. School pick-up, for instance.”
Ocado can currently provide same-day delivery on roughly 40% of orders placed before 10am, depending on customer location and availability of items in the basket, and offers delivery slots between 6.30am and 11.30pm.
An Ocado source said: “We think about everything. We experiment, we’re imagining the future, we’re doing all kinds of stuff, as you’d expect us to.”