COPENHAGEN: Traditional grocery retailing is being shaken up in Holland by an online-only, mobile-only supermarket based on the idea of the traditional milkman.

Joris Beckers, the founder of Picnic, told the recent Shoptalk Europe conference in Copenhagen how the business has gone from launch to five per cent share of the nation’s grocery sector in just two years.

He explained that the service was launched in an effort to close the e-commerce gap between grocery, only one per cent of which was sold online at the time, and non-food retail, which generated 25 per cent of sales online.

“But the food market is as large as all the other markets combined,” he pointed out. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Picnic: How the traditional milkman inspired a new online-only grocery store.)

The current grocery model may be highly efficient and successful, he said, but it hasn’t changed much in 40 years – improvements yes, “but no meaningful innovation”.

And it is limited in many ways, with the requirement to maintain expensive stores and warehouses and to predict demand at each store, which inevitably leads to food waste.

Plus the fact that most people drive to supermarkets leads to a high number of “food miles” and air pollution.

Beckers described his business as an updated version of the traditional milkman who delivered a small assortment of items to people’s homes.

By having an online-only service, Picnic eliminates the costs that other grocery retailers face in maintaining stores. This means it can offer free delivery, and that comes at a precise time each day rather than during a one- or two-hour time-slot. Delivery vehicles are electric and non-polluting.

“We’ve fulfilled two major needs, which is no more waiting and nobody likes paying for delivery,” said Beckers.

“So for the first time there’s an online alternative to a supermarket that is comparable in what it offers and comparable in price.

“That sounds like a small simple thing but it’s had major implications.”

Sourced from WARC