Asda is aiming to bring its fresh produce supply chain forward by six hours so stores are ready to "rock and roll" at 3am.
Gavin Chappell, vice president of e-commerce and supply chain at Asda, told a conference the firm currently planned it so stores were fully stocked with fresh produce by 9am, but demand from consumers for earlier home deliveries was changing the landscape.
Speaking at the IGD Supply Chain Summit, Chappell said the busiest time in their stores for staff was 5am as home deliveries were prepared, and that the 7am delivery slot was the most popular with consumers because it left the rest of the day for other activities.
“I need the store to be ready to rock and roll at 3am,” he said.
Chappell said the three factors of location, time and certainty were critical to a successful online business, with customers wanting goods in particular locations at a time they could depend on.
“For the vast majority of shoppers shopping is a chore, so we need to find ways of saving customers' time,” he said.
“We need to think of a supply chain that gets products to customers not where they shop, but where they are.”
He said the majority of customers were not making dedicated journeys to collect groceries but doing so while running another errand. “Eighty-four per cent of customers are saying they are doing something else during click and collect,” he said.
Referring to picking up goods from different locations via means such as lockers at stations, he said: “Lockers are going to be a big part of the landscape in the future because they provide that certainty. Once you get that text message [to say your shopping has been delivered to that location] you are locked and loaded.”
He added: “Customers are definitely changing the way they shop and the supply chain has definitely got to change. E-commerce shows up your vulnerabilities."
Chappell said it had taken five decades to optimise the traditional retail model. “We will not have 50 years to optimise the e-commerce model,” he warned.