Co-op robots

The grocery delivery robots are forwarding kids’ letters to the North Pole, via the Royal Mail 

The Co-op is offering to deliver letters to Santa using a fleet of autonomous robots.

The robots have been delivering groceries from a Milton Keynes branch since April and are now also collecting children’s letters to Santa as they drop off orders.

As an incentive to take up the offer, shoppers are rewarded in their next delivery with a £10 Co-op gift card and a free bag of carrots that “the children could leave for Rudolph”.

Read more: Co-op’s Chris Conway calls online and rapid delivery a “tremendous opportunity”

A video on the supermarket’s YouTube channel shows a robot decorated as a reindeer as it delivers an order and collects letters from two children.

It is thought to be one of the first times the Co-op has actively promoted the robot delivery service, which is run by tech startup Starship Technologies.

“Kids can send their letters to Santa in a bespoke envelope addressed to the North Pole, via the robots, and all letters will be placed into a Royal Mail postbox,” said a Co-op spokeswoman.

Customers order groceries using Starship’s app and pay a £1 fee for delivery, which takes as little as 15 minutes within a two-mile radius of the Monkston store. The products are bought by a human picker working for Starship and placed into the robot for its unaccompanied journey, in a compartment that remains locked until the customer confirms arrival using the app.

Starship recently added a service offering to complete the last mile delivery of online orders from any retailer. Users must have the order despatched to a Starship address and let the company know when they want to take delivery.

The Co-op also uses taxis to offer home delivery of shopping bought in store in a separate trial launched in July.

That trial is in partnership with Lineten, a logistics company geared up to enable online ordering. It’s thought it could pave the way for a larger-scale Co-op online launch.

In the 12 stores where the taxi trial is underway, it replaces an existing home delivery service using the Co-op’s own vehicle fleet.