Co-op targets 50% online delivery growth to £300m this year through quick commerce expansion


Starship Technologies robots will now deliver online orders from the Co-op in Cambourne. Image courtesy of Co-op

Starship Technologies robots will now deliver online orders from the Co-op in Cambourne. Image courtesy of Co-op

The Co-op is now targeting £300m in online delivery sales this year – equivalent to 50% growth on last year – as it expands fast deliveries from local stores. It is expanding its robot delivery partnership with Starship Technologies to Cambridge, and says it’s the first UK supermarket to introduce walking deliveries as it moves to extend to smaller towns and villages. 


If the Co-op succeeds in raising online sales to £300m this year, that will represent a 50% expansion on last year. Shoppers can already order online for home delivery from more than 2,000 Co-op shops in UK towns, villages and cities. Now the Co-op is focusing on quick commerce as it expands its offer. It cites estimates that the quick commerce channel could be worth up to £3.3bn in the UK alone and is it now focused on expanding its own services.


Chris Conway, ecommerce director of the Co-op, says: “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 ecommerce 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 quick commerce expansion will this year include walking deliveries to households and workplaces within a 15 minute walk of 200 stores. In a trial in Cornwall, the Co-op delivered goods such as last minute and forgotten items to  people including someone who was housebound after surgery and the parents of young children. The Co-op says the service will include smaller towns and rural villages that are often considered ‘offline’ by city-based rapid delivery companies. 


The retailer now uses robots to delivers in Cambridge as well as in its existing Milton Keynes and Northampton delivery areas. It is working in partnership with Starship Technologies and supporting Cambridgeshire County Council’s work to reduce short car journeys and improve air quality. The new trial service delivers to 5,000 homes in Lower and Upper Cambourne.


Cllr Mark Howell, county council member for Cambourne, says: “I’m delighted people living in my ward will now be able to enjoy the convenience of having small food deliveries dropped off at their front door. This will cut down on the number of small car journeys and save time. I would like to thank Starship for choosing Cambourne for the trial and I look forward to seeing how it goes.”


Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, says: “We are very pleased to be bringing the benefits of on-demand, contactless grocery delivery to residents in Cambourne. In the last few years 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.”


Starship Technologies was created in 2014 in Estonia by the co-founders of Skype and launched commercial deliveries in 2018. Since then its robots have travelled more than 4m miles, making more than 3.5m deliveries to customers, and it now operates in six countries in the world, including US university campuses and in neighbourhoods of Milton Keynes and Northampton in the UK. Its robots are powered by zero carbon electricity, making autonomous journeys to deliver orders placed through the Starship food delivery app, with a one-hour delivery promise. 


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