Web to rescue the British corner shop

Drop-off points

The Internet is jumping to the rescue of the corner shop.

A Leamington Spa-based company plans to offer Web shoppers the chance to use their late-night opening local shop or garage as a place to collect goods, such as books or CDs, bought online.

This will save punters having to worry about being at home during delivery times, while giving shop-keepers the chance to cash in on the odd bottle of milk impulse buy when customers pop in to collect their purchases.

Customers will be expected to cough up an extra 1 for the service from Internet start-up Dropzone1, which will ship items up to the size of a case of wine. The idea is that they choose the Dropzone1 method of delivery when ordering goods at their usual site, select their nearest collection point, and get an email or sms message when it arrives.

Dropzone1 has so far signed up petrol station chain Jet and retailers Londis and Spar for 25 trials in the Reading area in July. It plans a national rollout to 5,000 drop-off points by Autumn.

The scheme will be free to participating Web sites, while the collection points will be expected to pay a small fee, according to Dropzone1. Streets Online, which sells CDs and videos, was the first site to sign up, while clothing, wine, travel and health sites were also said to be interested.

"The absence of convenient home delivery is the Achilles heel of online shopping," said Dropzone1 director Lynda Wallace.

"The fact is that the people currently most likely to use the Web are the ones least likely to be home to take delivery." ®

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