Convenience retailers who fail to embrace technology risk “lagging behind” evolving online delivery providers, industry experts have warned.

The caution follows the launch of new digital delivery app, Bevy, designed to help independents compete against multiple delivery operations, and as Amazon is due to roll out its fresh food delivery scheme across the UK later this month.

Steve Leach, business unit director at Nisa, said retailers must “embrace technology” to help them “co-exist alongside the Amazons of the world”. He added: “Long-term, the ability to provide a tailored and personalised service will set symbol groups and independents apart.”

The newly-launched Bevy app enables shoppers in London to place online orders for alcohol and other goods, which are collected and delivered from local stores within 30 minutes.

Chief executive and co-founder Marco Saio said: “Most of the stores we work with have no online presence and we can take them from the back of the pack technologically to accessing completely new mobile customers. These are consumers who would have never necessarily stepped through their doors.”

Amazon Fresh is definitely a threat. Times are changing and we need to stay on top of things

Cheltenham Londis retailer Sandip Kotecha, who has expanded his food-to-go delivery service to include groceries, echoed Mr Leach’s advice. He said: “Amazon Fresh is definitely a threat. Times are changing and we need to stay on top of things.”

Meanwhile, Purdeep Haire, founder of online retail platform Cornershop Online, said retailers and symbol groups need to improve their technological and digital capabilities, such as by adopting loyalty-based apps and embracing social media and online ordering devices, to remain competitive and stop them lagging behind. 

“People who say Amazon Fresh won’t be a threat to convenience stores need to wake up and smell the coffee,” he said. “Shoppers will be prepared to pay a premium on goods if they can order them online and get them delivered in under an hour, which Amazon is promising.”

DON’T MISS! Bevy profile in 13 May issue of RN – subscribe here for exclusive independent news and views every week