eCommerce is an increasingly important area for all retailers, with lots of consumers shopping online. Wincanton is a ‘dark store’ trailblazer, with its Waitrose facility, the first of its kind in the UK, processing and delivering thousands of online orders each week.

Modern retailers need to be all things to all consumers in all channels. To match this aim and provide the service shoppers expect, a robust eCommerce operation is essential.

For our retail partners, we operate ‘dark stores’, or customer fulfilment centres. These function as bespoke facilities designed to serve online orders. They are operated by our logistics and customer services specialists who pick, pack and despatch orders taken on the retailer’s website.

Unlike a dedicated online fulfilment facility, a ‘dark store’ processes orders that include many different items. They often mirror physical shopping facilities – such as supermarkets – acting as a closed off, or ‘dark’, versions of shops.

This approach maximises efficiency; allows for a greater range of products to be stocked and despatched; gives greater visibility of produce and buying habits; and reduces wastage. Alongside a suitable home delivery or click-and-collect operation, a ‘dark store’ can serve high numbers of customers in a densely populated area.

Wincanton is the leading UK 3PL in this area. Its Waitrose Customer Fulfilment Centre in West London was the first facility operated by a supply chain specialist on behalf of a major grocer in Britain.