Asda is placing secure delivery boxes outside homes as it readies for a post-lockdown world where shoppers are no longer home to receive grocery orders.
The insulated boxes, which can store chilled and frozen food for up to four hours, are being tested around the country as part of a small trial by the UK’s third-largest supermarket. Drivers access the metal containers using a one-time passcode.
The coronavirus lockdowns and switch to working from home led to the online grocery market doubling in size to account for 14% of UK grocery sales in 2020.
However, the analysts Kantar say the number of people shopping online has declined for two months in a row as the coronavirus vaccine programme and the easing of restrictions have encouraged more people to visit physical stores.
During the Covid crisis, Asda increased its online capacity by 90% to 850,000 weekly slots. It expects to be fulfilling 1m orders a week by the end of 2021, with initiatives such as the secure boxes helping it to hang on to online shoppers as more Britons return to the workplace.
“As things begin to open up again, the boxes provide a convenient way for customers involved in the trial to take delivery of their regular shop while they are not at home,” said Simon Gregg, Asda’s vice-president of online grocery home shopping.
The shoppers take part by placing their order as normal on the retailer’s website before booking a four-hour delivery window. The company’s trial involves two box sizes, able to hold four or six bags, to cater for different household sizes.
Asda is on the verge of a £6.8bn takeover by a private equity consortium fronted by the Blackburn-based petrol station billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa. Last week, the Issas and TDR Capital offered to sell 27 petrol stations to allay concerns raised by the competition regulator that the deal could lead to higher fuel prices in some parts of the country.