The Best Delivery Innovation category is one that often produces the most interesting entrants as companies find ever more ingenious ways to propel their products in front of consumers. This year’s winner John Lewis/Waitrose was no exception to that as it launched its ‘While You Were Away’ app which sufficiently impressed the judges to ensure victory.

Gavin Matthew of Womble Bond Dickinson presenting the award for Best Delivery Innovation to Ben Cronin of John Lewis/Waitrose

The basic premise behind the app is the belief that no customer should have to be in for a delivery. Using a Yale Smart-lock, customers are able to grant time-limited access to their home for specially trained drivers. This is done via a code passed onto the driver. Once inside, those drivers put groceries away, placing in the fridge and freezer if required– all the while recording on a bodycam so that the customers can watch it back later on their While You Were Away app.

Waitrose’s starting point was the principle of giving back time to stressed and tired people. However, as well as providing real value to customers, it was also able to show other significant potential business gains, such as: a greater “share of stomach” through providing a differentiated service; route-efficiency gains by having a longer delivery window and the ability to plan the route in the most effective route rather than having to hit one-hour slots; and reduced use of plastic bags as items can be unpacked directly from crates. Waitrose also found that it doesn’t take substantively longer to do a While You Were Away delivery than a normal one.

Since launching in late 2018, the trial has gone from strength to strength. Positive customer feedback has led to its recent expansion beyond the initial area. Waitrose is the first to take the plunge and market this in the UK – something which impressed the panel.