|Waitrose Back in Acton|
'Virtual Shop' opens to meet London demand for online shopping
The prayers of Acton's chattering classes have been answered - Waitrose is coming back to W3. Well, virtually, at least. Waitrose today outlined plans to expand its online business in London with the opening of a new 'virtual shop' in Acton in the Autumn.
The new Dotcom-only branch at 96 Victoria Road, W3, will create around 350 jobs when operating at full capacity, functioning as a regular Waitrose shop but closed to customers.
The new approach will offer Waitrose the opportunity to develop its online business for the unique London market: a much greater volume of orders can be picked at a time, and online shoppers will be offered a much wider range of delivery slots as late as 11pm.
Waitrose currently picks orders in each customer's local branch. However, in the densely populated London market this means there is heavy demand for peak slots such as weekends and Friday evenings.
The new virtual shop will differ from other warehouse-based models because it will be staffed by Waitrose Partners who will pick products by hand and maintain the 'personal touch' of the current Waitrose e-commerce offer. For example this will include allowing customers to make specific requests to the personal shopper responsible for picking their shopping such as:
• opt for a specific number of items rather than a standard pack size - such as a single onion for a recipe
• make requests to their personal shopper, for example green bananas or extra thick slices of ham from the service counter.
Mark Price, Waitrose Managing Director, said: "The density of population and rapid growth of online shopping in London calls for an additional approach to e-Commerce to ensure that we offer our customers the same standards of service that they've come to expect from our branches
"This is a significant step in the development of our multi-channel offer, and will play an important role in the continued growth of our e-commerce sales over the next decade."
The 100,000 sq.ft. capacity branch is located close to the site of the very first Waitrose shop (originally called 'Waite, Rose and Taylor'), which opened in Acton in 1904, using an existing property owned by the John Lewis Partnership.
20 April 2011