Grocery Neighbour is a Canadian start-up whose partially open-air 53-footer trucks bring the store to you.
What we see below becomes an enclosed single aisle for shoppers. In five minutes or so you and I just walk through, grab what we need, throw it in a fold-out trolley, and exit on the other side. Sanitized, our trolley is ready for the next person:
They say business begins this month in Canada and the U.S. It is one of several ways that our grocery shopping is changing.
Let’s take a look.
Grocery Shopping Changes
From the Good Neighbour truck to Amazon’s dark stores, innovation is transforming how we shop for groceries.
Supermarket News tells us that online grocery sales were up 22 percent during 2019 and, for 2020, will probably increase by a whopping 40 percent. Below you can see some of the details:
Correspondingly, weekly online grocery sales are soaring:
With Instacart and Walmart leading the online market:
Walmart’s dominance is fed by approximately 5,000 stores (each dot) from which we can do an online pickup:
Very different from Walmart, Billy’s is a single large local store in Ridgewood, NY. Its owner explained that their goal has been to create an in-store experience, an alternative, and a complement to online orders. Yes, their online sales have been up substantially during the pandemic. But, demonstrated by a temporarily closed craft beer bar, their innovation is the quest for community:
In addition to the Billy’s of the industry, the future belongs to the Ocados. Ocado is an online fully automated grocer. Occupying 350,000 square feet, one of its warehouses has robots guided by air control traffic technology that scurry around on grids and fill up to 65,000 orders a week:
Also responding to the massive increase in demand, the dark store has arrived. Consequently, that Whole Foods in your neighborhood that you once shopped at could now be a dark store. Not really ominous, it is just a store that mostly or entirely fulfills online orders. As you might expect, Kroger, Stop & Shop and other large chains have dark stores.
Our Bottom Line: Creative Destruction
Explaining “creative destruction,” economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) said that economic growth depends on the pain of old industries dying and new ones taking their place. Now though we have creative destruction changing how we shop. Whether looking at online delivery or at Ocado’s warehouse robots, we can find supply chain innovation eliminating old businesses and creating new ones.
We also have Good Neighbour pulling up, maybe, to a street near you and me.
My sources and more: Together, a WSJ video and BBC article summarized the changes in grocery shopping. From there, Grocery Dive was handy for more on dark stores as was Supermarket News for online grocery sales.
Please note that parts of “Our Bottom Line” were in a previous econlife post.