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The companies shaping the future of retail

Logistics and supply chain costs are the largest operating costs in online retail. The way to bring them down? Automation.

A basket of food being delivered

This year, Ocado made a £10m strategic investment in Oxbotica to develop AI-powered self-driving systems that will work across its operations, from vehicles within and around its packing warehouses through to the last-mile vans that deliver grocery orders to people’s homes.

The collaboration will reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistic operations as well as improve supply chains. They expect the first products to be online within the next two years in Ocado’s customer fulfilment centres.

This investment is an extension to the Series B funding that Oxbotica announced earlier this year which was led by BP Ventures with global partners to help them further commercialise their autonomous software.

Breaking news: Ocado’s latest partnership with global retailers

As part of its strategy to help other grocery companies to build and run their own online ordering and delivery operations, the Ocado Group announced this month an agreement with Auchan Retail to develop Alcampo’s online business in Spain using the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP). The partnership will enable Alcampo to deliver a world leading online experience to their grocery customers across Spain.

From start-up to world-leading autonomous driving software company

Founded in 2014, Oxbotica has become one of world’s leading autonomous driving software companies.

Bringing the benefits of autonomy to organisations globally and building an ecosystem that supports the adoption of autonomous vehicles, the business aims to build partnerships to accelerate the deployment of Universal Autonomy to any industry.


From start-up to world-leading autonomous driving software company

Founded in 2014, Oxbotica has become one of world’s leading autonomous driving software companies.

Bringing the benefits of autonomy to organisations globally and building an ecosystem that supports the adoption of autonomous vehicles the business aims to build partnerships to accelerate the deployment of Universal Autonomy to any industry.


Online grocery business or technology giant?

Over the last twenty years, Ocado has changed the way the world shops. As a true pioneer of the online grocery market, it has blazed a trail through an increasingly digital world, both leading and benefitting from the shift to online shopping.

Its platform has evolved to become the most widely used by online grocery retailers in the world. Through its Ocado Solutions business, it is attempting to solve some of the biggest technology challenges around supply chains whilst still giving customers the best online shopping experience.

Ocado, which only started to position itself as a technology company in 2019, is now one of the largest in the UK with a value of £16bn (Dec 2020). The Covid-19 outbreak caused a seismic shift in the grocery sector with lockdowns forcing many consumers to shop for their groceries online. At the height of the pandemic Ocado’s struggle to keep pace with demand was well publicised. Less well known is that during 2020 it hired around 500 technology professionals to increase the pace at which it was developing its technology to transform online grocery retail and make it more profitable, scalable and sustainable.

Its smart platform now provides one of the world’s most advanced and efficient end-to-end services. The automated fulfilment is powered by physical infrastructure and algorithms that shorten lead times and improve accuracy. The modular format and cloud-based architecture ensure that the solution is scalable and continuously updateable. Its Solutions business offers the full-service proposition: a front-end interface for ordering, automated fulfilment through its customer fulfilment centres and last-mile operations for delivery. It has been reselling its technology to other grocery companies in the US and Canada to help them build and run their own online ordering and delivery operations.

Ocado’s goal has always been to 'disrupt itself', to continually upgrade its technology so it can’t be overtaken by competitors. It now describes itself as a “technology-led, global, software and robotics platform business, with a strong retail heritage”.

The race to improve supply chains

The relationship between Ocado and Oxbotica began in 2017, when they conducted a trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in London.

The new £10m investment into Oxbotica starts a multi-year collaboration to integrate their autonomous mobility software solutions into a variety of vehicles that could be used within online grocery as well as in kerb-to-kitchen robots.

Logistics and supply chain costs are the largest operating costs in online retail. Developing AVs in partnership with Oxbotica will reduce costs and improve supply chains by being better able to respond to peak delivery demands.


Vicky Hernandez, Royds Withy King Real Estate and Retail Partner commented,

“I have been constantly impressed by the way in which retailers have pivoted to adapt to changing consumer preferences over the last year. The collaboration between Ocado and Oxbotica is another excellent example of retail innovation. Until only recently Ocado was known as an online grocer. Today it is embracing cutting edge technology to turn itself into something far greater. With the increased use of grocery home delivery services predicted to stay, it’s no wonder that supermarkets are looking to expand this side of their offering; taking on extra staff and warehouse space in a rush to meet consumer demand.

Ocado’s investment in creating a fully automated delivery service takes things to another level and is a bold public declaration of the way it sees the future. I’m sure other retailers will be watching closely to see what happens and many will follow suit. For now, however, Ocado has very much positioned itself as market leader in grocery technology and it will take something equally pioneering to challenge this”.

The relationship between Ocado and Oxbotica began in 2017 when they conducted a trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in London.

This new £10m investment into Oxbotica starts a multi-year collaboration to integrate their autonomous mobility software solutions to a variety of vehicles that could be used within online grocery as well as kerb-to-kitchen robots.

Logistics and supply chain costs are the largest operating costs in online retail. Developing AVs in partnership with Oxbotica will reduce costs and improve supply chains by being better able to respond to peak delivery demands.


Vicky Hernandez, Royds Withy King Real Estate and Retail Partner comments,

“I have been constantly impressed by the way in which retailers have pivoted to adapt to changing consumer preferences over the last year. The collaboration between Ocado and Oxbotica is another excellent example of retail innovation. Until only recently Ocado was known as an online grocer. Today it is embracing cutting edge technology to turn itself into something far greater. With the increased use of grocery home delivery services predicted to stay, it’s no wonder that supermarkets are looking to expand this side of their offering; taking on extra staff and warehouse space in a rush to meet consumer demand.

Ocado’s investment in creating a fully automated delivery service takes things to another level and is a bold public declaration of the way it sees the future. I’m sure other retailers will be watching closely to see what happens and many will follow suit. For now, however, Ocado has very much positioned itself as market leader in grocery technology and it will take something equally pioneering to challenge this”.


Vicky Hernandez,
Royds Withy King Real Estate and Retail Partner,

T: 01865 264033
M:07850 400 055 
E: vicky.hernandez@roydswithyking.com