The hunt for the perfect urban delivery vehicle means we have seen a range of increasingly sophisticated solutions. Electric vans, motorcycles, Segways, drones, even robots have all been considered.
But the solution that Sainsbury’s has hit upon is more than one hundred years old – the bicycle.
It is starting trials of a services called Chop Chop, which will provide a one-hour grocery delivery service for customers in central London.
Customers can order up to 20 items using an IOS app, and have them delivered by bike for a £4.99 fee. It has recruited 40 shoppers and cyclists to operate the service, initially from two London stores.
Jon Rudoe, Sainsbury’s director of digital and technology, said: “Speed of delivery is important to some customers, so we have brought back our bicycle service to test demand further.”
Sainsbury’s first offered home delivery from its Croydon Branch in 1882 using horses and carts. It started using bicycles in the early 1900s.
By the 1950s the cost of vans had come down to the point where everyone wanted this cheap, efficient and more “modern” option. But recent years have seen a renaissance in bike use – London in particular has seen the arrival of “Boris” bikes and the cycle super-highways.
Bicycles might have been around for more than 100 years but there is no reason they can’t play an important role in modern urban delivery systems.