The days of lugging around heavy bags of shopping in the high street could soon be over, say bosses behind innovative new proposals.
Their scheme would allow visitors to Canterbury to leave their purchases in-store - and have them delivered to their homes or hotels later.
The ‘You Shop, We Drop’ service will be free for customers - within a five-mile radius of the city centre - and participating shops during a trial period.
The goods would be delivered to homes across the district by a fleet of electric vans and bikes operating out of special hubs.
The firm behind the initiative, Iconic Blockchain, has submitted its plans to Kent County Council (KCC) in the hope of gaining government funding.
The scheme - which is backed by the city council leader and Canterbury BID - would be the first of its kind in the UK.
Director Simon Herko revealed the idea was inspired by the way shopping works at huge theme parks.
“Disneyland is actually a big retail centre in many ways and everyone there is wanting to have fun,” he said.
“When you go into a shop, they keep your shopping back and it’s handed over to you as you leave.
“We thought we could do something similar for a town centre.
“People come in by public transport or cycle and can shop but don’t have to go through the usual barriers of having to carry bags around town.”
He believes it will help improve the experience of residents, visitors and tourists in the city centre.
Mr Herko hopes firms will see the opportunity to have a “competitive edge” by taking part - but admits he needs to convince them to sign up.
“Concepts are great but if you don’t actually get something up and running you could spend months talking to retailers about it,” he added.
“It’s only when it’s there happening they can experience the benefit and how their customers are responding to it.
“I can’t be confident because that’s why we applied for this funding because no one in this country has done this before.”
Iconic Blockchain has submitted the bid in partnership with Canterbury BID as part of the government Community Renewal Fund.
Entries will be shortlisted by KCC and sent to central government.
City council leader Ben Fitter-Harding (Con) has praised ‘You Shop, We Drop’ as a “great idea for Canterbury”.
“We want to be encouraging people to cycle in, use park-and-ride and external car parks,” he said.
“But you can’t necessarily do that if you buy loads of stuff and you can’t easily take it back with you. You might not be able to carry the stuff back.
“To be able to have freedom to buy what you want, in an environmentally-friendly way and have them delivered back to your home is the kind of shopping experience people are looking for these days.”
“We want to be encouraging people to cycle in, use park-and-ride and external car parks..."
He believes businesses will be “really on-board” with the scheme, and added: “We want to be a beautiful medieval city that is a tourist destination and everything else Canterbury is, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be at the forefront of the latest technology.”
Charges for the service would be introduced for all customers once the trial period ends.
The firm has separately been awarded a £75,000 government grant to research a scheme where parcels are delivered to homes by electric vehicles operating out of special hubs.
Bosses have applied for further funding to trial ‘You Shop, We Drop’.