Sainsbury’s is trialling a new zero-emission delivery service using ‘electric cargo bikes’ in a bid to make online orders quicker and more environmentally friendly in busy cities.
The trial will see five bikes, with electric motors and containers at the front and rear, delivering up to 100 online orders a day from the retailer’s Streatham Common store in South London.
The move follows a similar Sainsbury’s trial of one-hour push bike deliveries. The Chop Chop delivery service was extended in October 2017 to cover customers across Zones 1 and 2 of London, following a successful trial at its Pimlico and Wandsworth stores.
The idea behind the scheme is that the bikes, provided by e-cargobikes.com, will avoid the worst of the traffic by using cycle lanes. This has the potential to cut delievery times, particularly during peak delivery hours such as weekday mornings.
In addition, the bikes will be able to park closer to customers’ homes than is often possible for traditional delivery vans, with capacity to still carry several customer orders at a time. Each bike can hold 280 litres of groceries at the front and 130 litres at the back.
The trial will test whether this delivery method could be a more efficient way of getting groceries to customers in busy cities, however retail expert Steve Dresser reacted to the announcement with initial scepticism, tweeting: “Gimmick or genuine attempt to improve final mile in London?”
If adopted, the delivery service would lessen the impact on the environment since the electric bicycles produce zero emissions and no noise pollution.
Clodagh Moriarty, director of online at Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re delighted to be the first supermarket to trial grocery deliveries by electric cargo bikes.
“We’re always looking for new ways to make sure we can best serve our customers and this trial will help us explore whether there might be a more flexible way to deliver Sainsbury’s groceries to those who live in busy cities.”
James FitzGerald, managing director of e-cargobikes.com, added: “We’re thrilled to be working with Sainsbury’s on this trial. By taking existing e-cargobike technology and putting it to the test in a new market, we’re reimagining grocery deliveries and exploring a more sustainable transport system.”
Once customers have placed their online orders, Sainsbury’s will use routing technology to determine which orders are delivered by van or by electric cargo bike. The order will then be delivered during the customer’s chosen time slot by Sainsbury’s-branded bikes and riders.
If successful, the trial could be rolled out to further areas across the UK, Sainsbury’s said.