Dropzone joins e-fulfilment crowd

Latest dot-com delivery service launches with focus on petrol stations as pick-up point for purchases.

Another player has entered the UK’s burgeoning e-fulfilment market.

Dropzone.co.uk will begin testing its concept at the end of this month in Reading, with a view to going national in the autumn. It will act as a drop-off point for non-perishable goods delivered by e-commerce companies.

Petrol stations, with their long opening hours, will be at the heart of Dropzone’s service – BP, Jet and Texaco have all signed up as partners. But corner shops such as Spar, Booker and Premier have also been recruited. Northern Co-op chain United Norwest Co-op will join the Dropzone affiliates when the concept goes national.

Reading, which hosts a large number of IT companies, not surprisingly has the highest proportion of online shoppers in the UK. Of all the people in the town with Internet access, 18 per cent have bought goods online. This compares with a national average of ten per cent.

Dropzone’s first e-tailer client is Simplygames.com. No other client names were available as Marketing Week went to press, but Dropzone says it expects to forge ties with online merchants of wine, clothes, shoes and other easily delivered items.

The idea behind Dropzone is that consumers will be prepared to pay an extra £1 on top of the agreed delivery rate to have flexibility over when and where they collect their goods. The goods will be held at the drop-off point for up to three weeks.

Lynda Wallace, a director of Dropzone and former marketing consultant, says there are plans to extend the service to include perishable items as well. And with a view to overcoming online credit card fears, she hopes to offer a “payment on collection” option next year.

Consumers using Dropzone will be alerted by e-mail or text message on their mobile phone as soon as the delivery arrives at a Dropzone partner. Wallace expects most consumers to collect their goods between six and nine o’clock in the evening, but admits this is “based more on hunch than fact”.

This week also sees the launch of Zipround, an e-fulfilment company offering 24-hour delivery direct to consumers’ doors. Its initial line-up of partners includes Blockbuster, Ben & Jerry’s, Simply organic and Allcures, which claims to be the first fully operational online pharmacy in the UK.

Access to Zipround is via the website at www.zipround.com, but customers should soon be able to order via merchant partners’ websites and a new Zipround call centre. The customer has a choice of one-hour delivery slots based on scheduled local rounds.

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