Co-op Group announces major expansion of its online shopping service

The retailer has recorded more than 36 consecutive months of online growth since entering the market in early 2019

The Co-op Group has announced another expansion of its home delivery service, with plans to grow its online business by 50% to £300m by the end of the year.

Through the move, the Group hopes to take advantage of the rise of quick commerce, which offers delivery in less than an hour and is transforming the retail industry. Worth up to £3.3bn in UK sales, quick commerce is now recognised by retail analysts IGD as a separate grocery channel.

Home deliveries are already available at more than 2,000 of the Group’s stores across the UK, and it has recorded more than 36 consecutive months of online growth since entering the market in 2019. It uses its stores as distribution hubs for fresh groceries, and is expanding its offer through its online shop and partnerships with Amazon Prime and Deliveroo – where it is the most widely available supermarket, with over 1,000 stores on the app.

Now the Group plans to be the first UK supermarket to launch ‘walking deliveries’ for customers based within a 15-minute walk of its stores. This service, which has been trialled in Cornwall, is expected to operate from 200 stores this year with the rollout including smaller towns and villages, which are often ignored by rapid home delivery providers.

Robot deliveries continue to figure in the Group’s plans, with automated home deliveries coming to Cambridge this week in partnership with Starship Technologies, which already works with the retailer in Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Related: Co-op Group makes another extension to robot delivery service

The Group says the service, running from its Mosquito Road store and available to 5,000 homes in the Lower and Upper Cambourne districts, is in line with Cambridgeshire County Council’s environmental agenda which has a focus on reducing short car journeys and improving air quality.

Cllr Peter McDonald, chair of the council’s Highways and Transport Committee, said: “The partnership between the council and Starship is tremendously exciting and has the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents while also reducing congestion. Hopefully the trial will be a success which would allow us to extend the benefits of quick and easy deliveries to more people across the county.”

Andrew Curtis, Starship’s UK operations manager, said: “We have had extremely positive feedback from people using our service regularly in Milton Keynes and Northampton who have embraced the robots as part of their local communities. We’re looking forward to working closely with the council in Cambridgeshire and hopefully expanding the scope of this initial project.”

E-Commerce director Chris Conway said: “Making shopping quick, easy and convenient for our members and customers is at the very heart of our approach – our aim is to be the most convenient home delivery service and we continue to innovate to meet the needs of consumers.

“Co-op stores across the country are well placed to serve shoppers locally and a key part of our strategy is to develop our e-commerce offer, using the competitive advantage of our store footprint to provide fast home deliveries, click and collect and added services.

“We know that as a convenience retailer, the ability to pop into a local Co-op will always be important to customers, but we also know that they want flexible options online, and so we continue to work to meet customer needs, however, and wherever they choose to shop with us.”

The collection hatch for customers at the Lewes Road store

Earlier this month, the Group began the trial of an external service hatch for click and collect customers to pick up their shopping more quickly, without having to enter the store or queue. It is running the trial at its store in Lewes Road, Brighton, which has one of its busiest click and collect services.

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