Development of an improved, flexible, multi-temperature Click & Collect service for online grocery shopping, in response to the massiive growth in demand following the Covid19 pandemic

Lead Participant: Hubl Logistics Ltd

Abstract

The aim of Hubl Logistics Ltd is to develop a novel Click & Collect (C&C) solution, to meet the demand for cheaper and more convenient access to online groceries and FMCG. The explosive growth in grocery home delivery during the Covid19 pandemic, (online sales running ~5% pre-pandemic, now ~10%), has exposed the weaknesses within current grocery home delivery networks and C&C services. This is shown by the lack of delivery and collection slots for consumers. Grocery delivery networks are serviced by multi-temperature refrigerated vehicles that are fuel-hungry and have limited load capacity. Customer orders are often picked from shelf, in-store, which is slow, inefficient and costly to operate. Purpose-built 'dark stores' and automated fulfilment centres are few, as these are capital intensive and slow to develop. An initial means of increasing online capacity is through store-based C&C. This, generally, sees orders passed over the counter within the store, or handed-over in the store car-park. Again, they rely on in-store picking, manual assembly, temporary storage in inappropriate locations and a manual hand-over process - all very labour intensive, subject to errors and not economically sustainable. Hubl's proposed C&C is based on its existing proprietary and patented technology, the CoolRun Pod. This is an insulated, multi-temperature container, the size of a roll-cage, but with built-in secure compartments. The pods can be loaded automatically at a fulfilment centre or loaded from store locations. Once full, they travel through the delivery network (or simply move within the store), to the C&C hub in the retailer's car park. They remain there, with goods secure and at the correct temperature, until collected by the customer. Access to the correct compartment is provided by a code delivered to the customer's phone. Once empty, the CRPod is returned for replenishment with more orders. Additional technologies, including the supporting IT and C&C enclosure, will be integrated from established third parties, to ensure rapid development and deployment of the system. Our approach will create a sustainable solution which, when adopted by major retailers and third-party logistics operators, will be rolled-out to multiple locations in urban, suburban and rural areas. This will provide consumers with both secure access to online grocery shopping and a returns mechanism, at convenient locations within close proximity to their homes. Hubl and its subcontractors will undertake an initial feasibility study with major retailers and third-party logistics providers, followed by full development of the C&C technologies.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Hubl Logistics Ltd, BINGHAM £59,818 £ 59,818

Publications

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