The Poland-based maker of automated, temperature-controlled grocery pickup lockers and a last-mile delivery company in France have teamed to create what they call a “revolutionary” concept of a kind of shopping mall for click-and-collect food orders—or co-located banks of self-service click-and-collect machines from food multiple retailers—under the Delipop brand.
The companies—Retail Robotics and Star Service Group, respectively—say they plan to open a dozen Delipop pickup points this year and up to 1,000 by 2025, including planned sites in Paris and in London this year. They say the concept will provide retailers with a cost-effective means of expanding their reach and meet rising demand for pickup orders, while providing urban consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly solution.
The joint venture has raised 20 million euros—about $24 million—that founders say will cover the cost of 30 installations contemplated as its first phase of the rollout. Stephane Legatelois, CEO of Delipop, is a former director of supply chain e-commerce for the French hypermarket Carrefour.
“I look forward to launch Delipop, the first multibrand network of automatic pickup points for e-grocery, where reality surpasses what not long ago felt like fiction: creating new milestones and standards that move the entire ecosystem forward with automation and robotics—groundbreaking innovation in technology and e-grocery logistics,” Legatelois said in a release.
While U.S. retailers have experimented with various kinds of pickup lockers for years, the practice is still very much in infancy. However supermarket retailers like Albertsons Cos. and Ahold Delhaize USA’s Stop & Shop each introduced test locations near stores for the first time last year, as advances in technology met soaring demand for pickup. The practice is considerably more popular in Europe, where companies like Retail Robotics and Estonia-based Cleveron are developing larger and more advanced hardware. Delipop said it sees a strong opportunity in France, where the market value of e-grocery reached over 10 billion euros in 2020 and online orders increased by 30%.
“Observing the fast growth of e-commerce for years, we believed robotic pickup solutions were the way to go. COVID-19 has proved that the grocery retailers can no longer wait to introduce delivery standards that can meet the customers’ requirements, while keeping the balance of investments costs they can bear,” said Lukasz Nowinski, founder and CEO of Retail Robotics. “Delipop is the perfect answer for the big cities, allowing smooth operations without affecting the city traffic. We are really happy to develop our network in France, partnering with such a strong logistics player like Star Service, and I am sure this partnership is going to improve the e-grocery market in France very soon and significantly.”
The Delipop centers feature Retail Robotics’ Arctan machines, a kind of self-service vending machine that can process 150 to 200 orders per day. Officials say the units are three times more effective than traditionally operated pickup, reducing space and operational costs. They say an order pickup process for a customer can be completed in less than two minutes.
Delipop’s release did not identify any participating retailers. Officials said the retailers joining the network could increase their presence in dense downtown locations, giving them the opportunity to build loyalty among existing shoppers and reach new audiences without necessarily investing in new stores there.
“Together with our partner, we are taking action in changing the e-grocery delivery market. Our network, built in close cooperation with retailers, will significantly increase logistics capacity and provide a service that makes the same fleet of couriers able to deliver many more orders. In big cities, it is a crucial need and Delipop creates a big opportunity both for the market and the customers,” said Herve Street, owner of Star Service, the last-mile delivery company based in Paris.