Ever been lying in bed with a banging headache, wishing somebody could nip to the local supermarket and grab you a packet of Nurofen? Or stuck at your desk longing for a sarnie but with no time to duck out and run to the shops? Well thanks to Tesco those problems could soon be a thing of the past.
Today the grocer officially launched a one-hour delivery service in partnership with the logistics start-up Quiqup. Customers will be able to use its Tesco Now app to order up to 20 items from a 1,000-strong range of products that will be collected from one of the supermarket’s stores and delivered by Quiqup’s couriers in minutes.
Of course there’s a catch. For now the service is only available in some London postcodes, as is usually the case with so many of these apps. And it’ll cost you. Though there’s no minimum spend, one-hour delivery will cost £7.99, falling to £5.99 if you’re willing to wait an extra 60 minutes. The service will be available between 8am and 11pm on weekdays and between 9am and 11pm at the weekend.
It’s long-awaited news. Britain’s biggest retailer first trademarked 'Tesco Now' back in 2015 and last month it confirmed reports that it was testing the service with a small number of customers. Like the online takeaway company Just Eat it has even trialled the use of autonomous delivery buggies, though it seems unlikely these will enter regular use anytime soon.
It’s all part of a delivery arms race between the supermarkets and Amazon. Earlier in June the American retail behemoth made its boldest move into food yet, announcing plans to buy the healthy supermarket chain Whole Foods Market for £10bn. That sent supermarket share prices diving, reflecting a real sense of fear the giant could do to groceries what it has done to basically every other corner of the retail sector.
Amazon first launched its one-hour delivery service Prime Now in central London in 2015 and it’s now available in eight other cities. Last year it began delivering groceries through its AmazonFresh service, which for now remains confined to London and the south-east. Tesco will be hoping this latest deal will help minimise Amazon’s ability to muscle in on its market.
‘We see ourselves as providing retailers and high street brands with a way to compete with Amazon,’ Quiqup’s CEO and co-founder Bassel El-Koussa told MT in January. The start-up already delivers on behalf of Whole Foods. It will be interesting to see how long that deal lasts after Amazon takes over.