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Brief Published: 23 May 2013

Waitrose Welcome Desks Bridge On/Offline Divide

Extra

British supermarket chain Waitrose is introducing welcome-desk hubs in its stores, providing an elevated service for in-store shoppers, as well as a public interface for buyers on Waitrose.com.

As part of the retailer’s multi-million pound strategy to enhance the customer’s multi-channel experience, the new desks will offer a range of personalised services – such as flower and gift wrapping and dry cleaning. They will also include an area for ordering goods from Waitrose and John Lewis (its sister company) via tablets, as well as a space to collect online purchases ordered via Waitrose’s existing Click & Collect service.  

Waitrose said the decision to introduce these desks was directly prompted by the growth in the e-commerce market. “The new welcome desks will allow us to respond to changing shopping habits as our supermarkets are increasingly used as a destination to collect online orders,” explained Mark Price, Waitrose’s managing director. “By offering these new branch hubs, we will enhance the customer experience even further by providing greater convenience and even more personalised services.”

The new welcome desk will be trialled in 100 branches across the UK this year before rolling out to all shops in 2014. It follows on from the launch of a Waitrose drive-thru service earlier this year, and plans for self-service collection ‘pods’ using temperature-controlled lockers.

The growing array of possible consumer touchpoints being introduced by Waitrose and its competitors is evidence of how supermarkets are upping their game to offer greater convenience and flexibility to fit into consumers’ busy lifestyles. Peapod Digital Supermarket and Harris Teeter’s New Super-Service Supermarkets also show this in action.

For more on how VIP services are being appropriated by mainstream retailers – and driven by smart uses of technology – see Super Service in the Retail Sector. For more on bridging the in-store online divide, see E-tail Gets a Physical Presence, Digital Christmas, 2012: Holiday Retailing and Multi-Channel Retail: The Overview.

Waitrose

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