“Customer centricity” is becoming the focus of attention in retail. What customers are already used to while buying shoes or books on the Internet, they are increasingly expecting when shopping for food and groceries. Everything should be easy to order and delivered to preferred locations – preferably the same day. Therefore, more and more companies are offering new order and delivery options for food and groceries.
The figures of the e-commerce association bevh illustrate that in 2016, online grocery sales totalled 932 million euros, nearly 27% more than in 2015. It is clearly a growing trend.
Many old and new players are now elbowing their way into this promising growth market: it is not only conventional supermarkets such as Rewe that offer delivery of online shopping to your doorstep – even e-commerce giant Amazon is now looking at claiming a piece of this pie in Germany with AmazonFresh.
Pick-up at a station cooler box
Even companies that have thus far not had any contact at all with food are launching related projects. Take, for instance, Deutsche Bahn, the German railway network. The end of March saw the launch of the “DB Bahnhofsbox” in Stuttgart, and at the beginning of May, the pilot project will be launched at Berlin’s Ostbahnhof station. Customers can conveniently place orders online with their partner, the supermarket Edeka, while at the office and pick up their packed shopping bags on the way home from a cooler box at the station.
“This makes it simple for customers to pick up their online orders, with the result that they save time and have no need to plan any additional trips”, says Edeka spokeswoman Bettina Stolt. The service will be tested for six months, after which other local or e-commerce companies will also be able to make use of these cooler boxes. “There is tremendous potential, because the concept can in principle be implemented at any of the 5,400 stations in Germany”, says Marko Sidik of the product management and customer services department at Deutsche Bahn.
Consumers are increasingly looking for convenient services
HelloFresh has also recently started focusing on train stations. Originally founded five years ago in a shared kitchen, the company now delivers around nine million meals per month to more than 850,000 customers in nine countries. The pre-measured “meal kit” with recipes and all the necessary ingredients is now for the first time available in a pop-up store at London’s Old Street station.
“This way, we are complying with the frequent request of our London customers of being able to buy our dishes conveniently on their way home”, says Markus Windisch, managing director Germany and Austria at HelloFresh. “We see more and more consumers looking for simple and convenient services. Our number of subscribers is steadily increasing”, says Windisch.
It is important to do pioneering work
Train station delivery was also tested by Dominique Locher, but the project was cancelled “because you still have to carry the products home”. The CEO of Switzerland’s largest online supermarket, LeShop, is currently looking at the parked car as a delivery location. Since the beginning of March, Volvo drivers in Switzerland have been able to have their purchases delivered directly to their cars.
“Volvo approached me, and it took about 30 seconds for me to say ‘yes, let’s do it’. Your car remains unused 95% of the time, and as an extended home, it is becoming an increasingly important delivery destination and an interesting solution for the last mile”, says Locher.
When ordering online, the customer specifies where the car will be at the desired delivery time. The courier locates the car via a mobile device and gets an electronic one-time key that expires after delivery – and the customer is notified of the delivery immediately by SMS. AmazonFresh Pickup is also starting a similar project in the United States.
At the moment, LeShop only delivers a handful of orders per day in this way, but Locher believes it is important to do pioneering work. He has already tested delivery to station lockers and pick-ups at petrol stations – and has been facilitating orders via mobile devices since 2009. “Everyone said it was too early, but I think these days you have to be too early if you’re going to be on time. It’s in our DNA”, says Locher. “We believe the customer’s need is to keep receiving their deliveries quicker and more accurately”.
Same-day delivery is becoming more important
Among other things, such pioneering work ensures an increase in customers’ expectations vis-à-vis quick and accurate delivery. Same-day delivery is therefore becoming more and more important – especially in large urban areas. For this reason, logistics providers are increasingly investing in start-ups to drive expansion. Hermes recently increased its shareholding in same-day delivery specialist Liefery to 67 %.
Thomas Horst, managing director at Hermes Germany, says: “According to renowned consulting firms, the share of same-day delivery in the overall e-commerce market will increase to 20% by 2025. Personally, I estimate it to be a little lower. But even if we assume it to be 10% to 12%, there is strong growth in this area”. At Liefery, more than 3,500 couriers deliver the requested products at the requested time – even feta cheese and meatballs.
The way we order everyday products is changing significantly
It is not only with the delivery but also during the ordering itself that customers expect a simple and convenient process. The AllyouneedFresh waste bin is an example of this. If you have one of these at home, you can use it to reorder products. All you need to do is read the bar code on the wrapper with a built-in scanner next to the lid of the waste bin and the product is placed in your online shopping cart.
“All I need to do is link my waste bin to my Wi-Fi once. I can then check whether I really want all the products, change quantities and add more articles from any device, whether mobile or PC”, says Max Thinius, spokesman for AllyouneedFresh and the German e-commerce association bevh. He views this concept as the precursor of the “mythical smart refrigerator”.
Refrigerators that can place orders themselves are still largely in the research phase – currently on the market, for example, is the Family Hub refrigerator from Samsung, in which three high-resolution interior cameras take a picture when the doors are closed. “Online shopping is changing radically – we used to buy mainly luxury goods online, but now customers are also expecting all of this for everyday goods such as food and groceries”, says Thinius.