As it adjusts to new demand for e-commerce in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Ahold Delhaize’s Stop & Shop banner said this week it would be adding three additional pick warerooms, at least 50 more customer pickup sites and would expand its relationship with the third-party delivery app Instacart.
“By adding new warerooms, additional locations for pickup and expanding our partnership with Instacart, we’re rapidly accelerating our e-commerce capacity and making it possible for more customers to shop how and when they want with us,” Gordon Reid, president of Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop, said in a release. “Creating a seamless omnichannel experience was a strategic priority for us prior to the pandemic, and with the increased demand we’ve seen over the last several months, it’s more important than ever that we deliver improved digital solutions and online fulfillment for our customers to shop for the food and other groceries they need.”
Warerooms, or space adjacent to stores that facilitate more efficient picking of orders for e-commerce, have been a part of Stop & Shop’s online strategy for years. Typically, they comprise 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, with warehouse-style shelving stocking around 8,000 fast-moving SKUs, which are “topped off” with portions of orders—typically temperature-sensitive and fresh items like deli orders—from stores. Stop & Shop currently picks from 21 warerooms in its Northeast geographies. They typically serve clusters of stores.
Scott DeGraeve, co-founder of the e-commerce firm Locai and a former executive with Ahold’s Peapod brand, said workers can pick about 150 units per hour in a wareroom—a rate about 2.5 times more efficient than picking from stores. Speaking in a webinar last week, DeGraeve described warerooms as as a first step toward still-more efficient solutions like larger dark stores conversions or microfulfillment centers retailers can use as demand scales.
Stop & Shop also plans to add pickup to at least 50 more stores by year-end. Launched a year ago, pickup is currently available at 212 of Stop & Shop’s more than 400 stores, providing shoppers with a faster and more convenient way to pick up their order in as little as four hours. With this service, customers can place an order on Peapod.com, head to their local store and have a Stop & Shop associate load their groceries right into their car.
Stop & Shop said it has also expanded its availability on Instacart to 321 of its locations, making same-day, contactless delivery available now from more than 75% of its stores. This option gives shoppers the ability to shop for same-day delivery orders using the Instacart website or app, with orders picked and delivered by contract workers in local stores. The retailer said loyalty card holders using this option can earn points redeemable for fuel discounts at checkout.
“Instacart is proud to expand our partnership with Stop & Shop as we work to ensure busy people and families in communities across the country have access to same-day delivery from their favorite store,” said Andrew Nodes, VP of retail for San Francisco-based Instacart. “Consumers are now more than ever before relying on online grocery shopping for their everyday needs. Together with Stop & Shop, we’re giving their loyal customers another way to affordably, safely and quickly get the fresh groceries and household essentials they need.”