Source: Planet Organic

Customers outside the capital were previously limited to ambient products

Planet Organic has launched nationwide next-day delivery of chilled and fresh produce.

Previously only select London postcodes were able to receive the full range of goods – excluding frozen – with customers outside the capital limited to ambient products.

The service was quietly turned on last week, ahead of a wider marketing effort planned for this week. The service will be promoted via email campaigns to Planet Organic’s 80,000 online customers and on social media as part of the biggest marketing drive in the company’s history, it is understood.

“It will be as soft a launch as an e-commerce launch can be in a national lockdown,” Planet Organic customer director Alex Hodge told The Grocer.

Orders are picked by staff from the organic chain’s Westbourne Grove store in Notting Hill, with deliveries made by courier DPD. There is no minimum order size, with a £5.95 fee for next-day delivery. The brand has built a dedicated fulfilment team to handle the orders and will continue to recruit in the coming weeks.

Having seen “huge e-commerce growth” during the last lockdown, the company made the call in late July to overhaul the back-end of its e-commerce operation – which includes a new website released today – and launch nationwide delivery.

“We saw the risk of another lockdown, and ideally we wanted this in place beforehand,” Hodge said. “Coincidentally we’ve launched on the same day it’s formalised. It’s been a rapid process, an incredibly aggressive timeline.

“With the replatforming we can offer a stronger customer experience and have the tools to understand who is shopping with us and how we build that relationship over time,” he added.

Some small adjustments have been made to the range for online, such as pre-packed and pre-weighed multiple packs of fruit & vegetables, rather than the singles sold in stores. Picking is done before the store opens and throughout the day. Goods are packed in Woolcool wool liners.

As well as regular calls from customers outside London to provide a broader range, website analysis found shoppers beyond the capital regularly put chilled goods in their online baskets before being forced to abandon them at the final stage of ordering.

“We believe there’s demand there for the full product range,” said Hodge. ”There’s an element of the uniqueness of our range that’s lost without the opportunity to buy chilled.” 

Hodge said he was confident the demand could be met.

“Everybody learnt in March what a spike in demand can do to your operation. We’ve learnt through that and we’re confident we can scale as demand scales,” he said.

While deliveries are currently fulfilled from a single store, the company is now considering how its other locations can be leveraged to “deliver locally to their local catchments”.