Tesco and Waitrose yesterday revealed they will be offering click-and-collect to London Underground passengers. Retail Week takes a look at the service.

Why are we talking about this now?

Tesco and Waitrose revealed this week they are to follow rival Asda in offering collection of online grocery orders at London Underground stations, along with automated parcel locker specialist InPost. Asda first introduced the initiative in November, piloting the service at six tube stations. As time-pressed shoppers look for convenient ways to integrate food shopping into their packed schedules, collecting orders en route home could prove a handy solution.

How does the service work?

Asda introduced its service to six stations – namely, - East Finchley, Harrow and Wealdstone, High Barnet, Highgate, Stanmore and Epping – by allowing shoppers to pick up orders made online before midday by 4pm from a home shopping delivery van in the car park. Asda is now looking to expand the pilot.

Tesco will employ a similar tactic from February with vans at Osterley, Newbury Park, Rayners Lane, Finchley Central, Arnos Grove and Cockfosters echoing its service at the back of some Express stores including two in London in Datchet and Harrow.

Waitrose is to use temperature controlled lockers similar to those introduced at its head office in Bracknell last July whereby customers are sent a pin to unlock the locker.

How is the service likely to evolve?

As Transport for London (TfL) enacts its strategy to reduce the number of ticket halls across its 270 underground and 120 additional stations, more space will open up for retail use. TfL commercial development director Graeme Craig tells Retail Week it is in talks with “every major retailer” about taking space in the stations for small stores or lockers.

It is understood Amazon is among those eyeing lockers, which it already has in convenience stores, while grocers who find it difficult to open large supermarkets in London will relish the opportunity to access the lucrative market.

Moreover, as wi-fi is rolled out across the tube network, consumers are increasingly likely to adopt the services. A study by agency Geometry Global showed 59% of those surveyed have taken to commuter shopping because of the convenience while 31% have purchased at the bus stop.

What other initiatives will happen on the underground?

Major developments are planned at a number of stations including South Kensington and Old Street. Craig says: “At the moment, we have 1,000 sole traders and independent retailers which are not at the modern standard we would like. Retail is a logical direction and we are also looking at everything from post offices to crèches.”

Craig adds that shopping walls, such as the ones employed by Tesco in South Korea, are also on TfL’s radar but it has no immediate plans to introduce them.