Waitrose could become the first grocer to open a ‘dark’ store to fulfil online orders outside of London as the retailer’s online sales soar.
The upmarket grocer reported a 50% increase in the volume of online sales in the first half today and managing director Mark Price told Retail Week that Waitrose is looking to build on its infrastructure accordingly.
Waitrose opened its first ‘dark’ store in October last year – a 37,000 sq ft facility in Acton, west London – and is on the hunt for two more in the capital before casting the net wider.
Price said: “We only opened the first dark store at the end of last year but we cannot grow at the level we’re growing and not expand. We are looking at a second and third dark store. There is masses of demand, it’s unprecedented.
“We would definitely look to open one outside of London. We are looking at whether we need dark stores outside of London.”
Price said 14% of Waitrose’s online business is done within the M25 and towards the end of the first half the grocer’s online channel was trading 70-80% up week on week.
Tesco also has four dark stores in London, the latest of which opened in Enfield last November, as sales densities for online shopping are strongest in the capital.
Waitrose is enacting a multichannel strategy to harness the growing demand for online shopping. The grocer relaunched its website in March last year and last month launched a transactional mobile site.
Price said: “This allows customers to shop at Waitrose wherever they are and the site is performing very strongly. We will look at whether we need to develop an Apple or Android app in due course.”