Tesco will trial drone deliveries from October

The UK’s biggest retailer on Wednesday said it would start trialing grocery home deliveries with drones from October.

As part of a virtual event on Wednesday, Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis said the business was considering new ways to reach customers, and that it will launch the trial in Ireland, where partner Manna already has a licence to operate.

READ MORE: Tesco to convert surplus food into renewable energy and power 6 stores

“They (Manna) have already proven the capability, the question is how do we take that capability and apply it to Tesco and that’s the detail that’s been worked on now before we get to the trial,” Lewis said during a webcast Tesco hosted on “disruptive innovation”, Reuters reported.

Tesco’s group innovation director Claire Lorains said the trial would initially focus on the delivery of just a few grocery items, such as forgotten recipe items, with deliveries made within 30 minutes to an hour of being processed.

“We’re really interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets,” she said, noting the small basket market in Britain was forecast to exceed £10 billion ($13 billion) over the coming years.

“If our trial with Manna is successful, we really think there is an opportunity to reach many customers through our stores extending with a drones service,” Lorains added.

Lewis said Tesco now has four innovation priority areas: food & drink products and technology; data; robotics and automation; and packaging.

In a separate announcement on Wednesday, the retailer detailed its new Tesco Red Door project, in which it will invite innovators with new products, ideas or emerging technologies with “the potential to cause disruption in the future” to contact its newly established Group Innovation team.

Tesco said it is looking to work with innovators to help Tesco in areas “beyond day-to-day operations”, with what it describes as “a focus on ideas that can create true competitive advantage for Tesco and improve the way it serves shoppers”.

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