Co-op expands robot service in Milton Keynes

The Co-operative has expanded its same-day autonomous robot deliveries in the UK across Milton Keynes and surrounding towns and villages amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The convenience retailer became the first to trial same-day autonomous robot deliveries in the UK when it teamed-up with Starship Technologies in April 2018 to offer the emission free online home delivery service.

The Co-op said it has seen the number of customers using robot deliveries more than double since the start of lockdown, with the value of transactions increasing four-fold as shopping habits change.

The service has now been made available in eight Co-op stores, with six new stores added since March. 

With Starship waiving its delivery charge for NHS workers during the lockdown period, the robots were also programmed to pause to “clap and cheer” at 8pm on Thursday evenings in order to “thank” and “recognise” carers and key workers.

The move was originally intended to offer additional choice, ease and convenience for time-pressed shoppers.

Co-op has also focussed on developing the range of products available through robot delivery, with shoppers now able to select from around 1,000 everyday essential products.

Jason Perry, Co-op head of online development, said: “Quality, ease and convenience is at the core of our approach and we continue to innovate and expand access to our products online in order to offer greater flexibility and choice to meet consumer needs in our communities.”

The news comes as the Co-op warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to increase its costs by over £200m.

The grocery retailer also revealed it expects the increase which will be partly offset by increased food sales and the expected business rates relief announced by the chancellor.

CEO Steve Murrells said no part of the business has been “unaffected by the outbreak of the virus.”

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