This week it was revealed that London Underground will offer a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays from 2015.

This week it was revealed that London Underground will offer a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays from 2015.

It has been suggested that this round the clock service will boost London’s competitive edge by increasing its night time business, putting London alongside other 24-hour cities such as New York. Talk has already begun of who will benefit from the change to London’s transport system, and retailers are high up there with those expected to be the winners.

As part of the changes, ticket offices will close and Amazon has already voiced its desire to capitalise on these changes. The online only retailer is thought to be in talks with Transport for London about using the closed ticket offices as collection points for its goods, highlighting the commercial possibilities for these vacated spaces.

This follows Asda’s decision to offer click-and-collect services at London Underground stations from November 25. Using this service, customers who order before noon will have the chance to collect their order after 4pm from selected tube stations. The first locations chosen to target commuters will be East Finchley, Harrow & Wealdstone, High Barnet, Highgate, Stanmore and Epping. The initiative is part of Asda’s five year strategy to increase physical access to its products from 55% of the UK to 70% by 2018.

In my opinion, both Asda and Amazon have made intelligent decisions to use these existing hubs for consumers to collect their online orders. In the battle for omnichannel supremacy, making the customer experience as seamless as possible should be at the forefront of retailers’ strategy - and these two retailers have got it just right.

These latest strategies will offer online consumers much more convenience by allowing the retailers to go to the shopper, rather than making the customer go to their store or an out-of-the-way collection point.

It is not just consumers that will benefit, but retailers too. For businesses that don’t have much of a high street presence, using a click-and-collect strategy and transport hubs will mean that they won’t need to invest in high street bricks-and-mortar space or even partner with other retailers that do. This will mean retailers can create a direct link to consumers without having to invest in anything other than the cost of renting space in a tube station.

Forward-thinking retailers should therefore look for ways to innovate in the same way that Asda has, and as Amazon is looking to do. Tube stations are likely to become a hotly contested location in the not-too-distant future, so Asda and Amazon have probably done well to get in there first.

  • Dan Coen, director, Zolfo Cooper