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Source: Retail Robotics/Delipop

Consumers use a unique code to enter and collect their shopping from large drawers

A soon-to-be-formed joint venture hopes to roll out 500 automated click & collect sites across the UK within the next five years, for multiple supermarkets to use as customer pick-up points.

The locations, branded as Delipop, are entered by consumers using a unique code. They then pick up online orders from large drawers containing totes of shopping. A separate locker area serves frozen goods. Consumers will order groceries online through their supermarket as usual, and select their local Delipop location to collect from.

Delipop UK is a joint venture between robotics company Retail Robotics, which has produced more than 40,000 parcel locker units for Inpost in the UK and Europe while also developing its own machines, and an as-yet unnamed partner.

Behind the scenes of a Delipop site, the Retail Robotics machine, called Arctan, stores 226 totes of groceries, which are served to the customer on demand. Delipop will collect orders from stores and CFCs where they have been picked and packed into totes, to replenish the refrigerated machine.

It is expected a typical Delipop location will be used by multiple supermarkets, though some may be used on an exclusive basis for initial testing.

“Any retailer or brand will be able to co-operate with us. It will be like as a cash machine works with multiple banks,” Retail Robotics chief business development officer Michal Mierzejewski told The Grocer.

Depending on the location, some sites may offer 24-hour collection, with flexible time slots.

Neil Lambert, CEO of Delipop UK and managing partner of investment firm InfiniumPartners, said the company was focused on establishing sites in “supermarket deserts”. The locations will include commercial units on high streets “in order to have a frontage and get awareness out there”.

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Source: Retail Robotics/Delipop

Depending on the location, some sites will offer 24-hour collection

“We see Delipop being able to drive footfall, be that your coffee shop, fuel forecourt, travel hub or next to a convenience store, where you can buy what you forgot on the order you just picked up,” Lambert said.

“It’s accessing customer locations that can’t be easily [accessed], because the retail estate isn’t there or the capex is too high – we can drop in,” he added.

A proof of concept site was trialled in Paris in August last year in collaboration between Retail Robotics and Carrefour. The site carried Carrefour branding and exclusively served the supermarket’s products.

“Apart from a very positive outcome of the trial - we decided to give an additional boost to the consumer experience. For a year we have been doing additional research, working on UX, testing and designing the ultimate consumer convenience. To make the experience as smooth as possible. You can see it in the new design of locations, interfaces and communication,” said Marek Piotrowski, CMO Delipop and CMO and partner at Retail Robotics.

The first Delipop France branded site will launch in Paris in September with two more expected in the following weeks. In France, Delipop is a joint venture between Retail Robotics and Star Service Group, which together have invested €20m to establish the first 30 locations. The ambition for the country is to have 12 Delipop points by the end of Q1 2022 and up to 1,000 by the end of 2025.

The first UK site could arrive as soon as the fourth quarter of this year those close to the joint venture said, and the company is “currently signing up two exclusive launch partners”. However, Retail Robotics said the first UK site would be live by the first half of next year.


Source: Retail Robotics/Delipop

The first Delipop branded site will launch in Paris in September with three retailers

“We can see some locations would be exclusive for one retailer, but overall it’s an agnostic network,” Mierzejewski said.

Collection lockers close to transport hubs have been used previously by several major supermarkets. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Ocado and Waitrose launched grocery pick-up lockers at Tube stations as part of a TfL trial, but these were all quickly abandoned.

Their failure was due to inflexible pick-up windows, Lambert said, and because online grocery was not so popular at the time. “You still had to work your schedule around them. And it wasn’t a permanent enough location for customers to build a routine around,” he said.

With Delipop sites, the startup handles feeding the locations with fresh orders, with the retailer paying a fee per order or monthly subscription based on an agreed amount of totes delivered. Retailers set their own customer fees. The company claims retailers can fulfil orders for less cost than delivering directly.

“This is a model that can drive profitability and reduce capex for retailers,” Lambert said.

According to the company, 40% of consumers it surveyed would definitely or probably use Delipop to collect groceries, with the proportion higher among regular online shoppers and younger-age demographics.

The company’s five-year target promises to put 1,000 UK households within a three-minute walk or drive of a Delipop location by 2026.