Click & collect is truly here to stay. The freedom it has given customers is something they don’t want taken away, so it is the duty of grocers to adapt their services.

So far all the activity has been dominated by the multiples. However, what about all the independent grocery stores? What opportunities are there for them to reap the benefits from this revolution in retail? An article in The Grocer (‘Will click & collect click for indies?’ 19 July, p52) discussed this but neglected to answer the practical question of how this was achieved.

This is what is hindering the independents in this sector - lack of knowledge and access to technology. To address this, ByBox is spearheading a scheme in Oxfordshire to help local retailers - grocers and non-grocers - compete in the online world by providing them with an easy, cost-effective click & collect solution. By opening up our myByBox locker network to independents, ByBox is hoping to solve that initial hurdle of technology infrastructure investment while simultaneously providing a locker partner. By extending retailer services beyond traditional hours, the customer base available to these retailers is dramatically increased; no longer are they solely relying on passing trade to drum up physical sales. They can offer services at all hours, day or night, whenever is convenient to customers.

MyByBox also has the added impact of bringing more local shoppers to the high street. Furthermore, it promotes window shopping and visits to other local businesses such as restaurants or coffee shops, improving the overall health of local town centres. Finally, there is scope for a wider raft of services to be offered, outside standard grocery collection. Businesses that focus on repairs of consumer goods - clothes, electrical or jewellery, for example - can use it as a pick-up and drop-off service, taking advantage of the 24-hour service it opens up.

While the trial is in its early days, interest from local retailers has been strong. Our aim is to create a model that can be repeated nationwide, allowing local retailers to bring their businesses truly into the 21st century.

Stuart Miller, CEO and co-founder, ByBox