On Tuesday 4 October 2011, Waitrose will step up its presence in the online grocery shopping market as it starts to despatch orders from its first Dotcom Fulfilment Centre in Acton, West London and, because of the increased capacity, will give customers enhanced levels of service.
Waitrose - the fastest-growing online grocery retailer over the last year* - has offered online shopping in London since July this year and, until now, orders have been met by 19 existing branches in the capital which have seen staggering increases in volumes - orders have tripled over the past 10 weeks in some cases.
The new 37,000 sq ft Dotcom Fulfilment Centre (sometimes known as a “dark store”) is just like a normal supermarket but, instead of customers shopping the aisles, Waitrose Partners (employees) follow the one-way system around the Centre with extra-large trolleys that mean they can pick product from shelves, chillers, freezers, bakery and dedicated “service counter” areas (for fresh meat, fish, cheese and deli) for six orders at a time.
The Centre will offer customers one-hour delivery slots and there will be an extra 10 hours for weekday deliveries as the window is extended to 7 am - 11 pm (currently 8 am - 10 pm). One thing that won’t change - Waitrose continues to be the only major online grocery retailer offering all-year-round free delivery for all orders over £50.
The Centre will initially handle two thousand orders a week from customers but this number is expected to grow significantly over the coming months - at full capacity the Centre will become the largest food-only Waitrose branch. Working in parallel with the Centre, fourteen Waitrose branches will continue to deliver orders for customers in some parts of the city.
Over 200 new jobs have been created as a result of this development with all the new employees becoming Partners in Waitrose, which is a division of the John Lewis Partnership. Their focus will be on giving customers the “personal touch” service for which Waitrose.com is famous - meeting requests for green bananas or extra-thick slices of ham, for example.
In developing the Centre, Waitrose has focused on giving customers top quality service while making efficient use of resources. The facility has been created in just six months from a former John Lewis distribution centre with a relatively modest investment of £3m in conversion costs.
Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose, said: “We see huge potential for our online business across the country and in the important London market and this new Fulfilment Centre is a big step forward in meeting the incredibly strong demand for Waitrose products, service and value in the capital.”
has 71 shops inside the M25 - 19 of these have been servicing online orders since July. Fourteen will continue to do this in parallel with the new centre.
Waitrose currently has 264 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands. Its recent strong performance has been driven by the success of the essential Waitrose range, its partnership with Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal and an unmatchable top tier of products including the ‘Duchy Originals From Waitrose’ range.
Waitrose combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced combined with high standards of customer service. (www.waitrose.com)