Tesco to trial drone deliveries next month

Tesco will begin a trial of delivering groceries by drone in October.

During a 'disruptive innovation' virtual event yesterday, chief executive Dave Lewis said it will launch testing in Ireland, where its partner Manna already has a licence to operate drones.

“They have already proven the capability, the question is how do we take that capability and apply it to Tesco and that’s the detail that’s been worked on now before we get to the trial,” he explained.

The trial will initially focus on the delivery of a limited number of grocery items, with the aim to get them to customers within an hour of being processed.

Group innovation director Claire Lorains said: “We’re really interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets.

“If our trial with Manna is successful, we really think there is an opportunity to reach many customers through our stores extending with a drones service."

The supermarket chain also launched its 'Red Door' initiative, aimed at disruptive innovation.

It is inviting startups and innovators with new products, ideas or emerging technologies to contact the newly established Group Innovation team. This team will be a single point of contact, responsible for quickly evaluating ideas, supporting partners to access Tesco, and helping them to develop and implement their ideas.

Specifically, the team is looking for innovators to work with Tesco in areas beyond day-to-day operations, with a focus on ideas that can create true competitive advantage for the company and improve the way it serves shoppers.

This approach builds on Tesco's five-year turnaround project, which included the launch of new brands, products and services, alongside the introduction of new technology and systems to make the business simpler for colleagues and better for customers.

The Group Innovation team brings together experts from across each of Tesco’s core business functions, reporting directly to the group chief executive. The team has already established networks in London, San Francisco and Israel.

Tesco is initially focusing on four priority areas that it believes will deliver the biggest impact: food and drink products and technology; data; robotics and automation; and packaging.

Lorains added: "In the short time we’ve been together, our multi-disciplinary team has already built networks in key innovation locations, and seen over 200 innovations.

"There’s lots more to come, as we work with partners to develop new and disruptive innovations, and we welcome approaches from anyone with an idea to share.”

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