Curbside pickups is an eCommerce innovation primarily driven by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic it was virtually unheard of. However, it has since become standard procedure on many eCommerce sites. This option has been more attractive in the era of COVID because it helps drivers and customers maintain social distance. It was one of the ways many businesses could even stay in operation during the initial outbreak of the pandemic. In the suburbs of New York the demand for curbside pick up reached 300 percent. By all indications many businesses will keep this option permanently available to all prospective clients. We have started to observe companies tailor their whole business strategy to measures like curbside pick ups.
Curbside pickups are more normalized in the retail grocery section. In recent weeks we are observing many big retail chains jumping on this successful bandwagon. Canadian retail giant Sobeys, has used curbside pick ups to greatly advance its eCommerce sales. Canada’s second largest food retailer announced its expansion to Nova Scotia. This is in partnership with British online supermarket, Ocado. Interestingly, a curbside pick up service called Voila is Sobey’s answer to this. The first location is the Aberdeen Shopping Centre store in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Firstly, Sobeys used its own staff to test its store pick up option.
Through the Voila mobile application customers, Sobeys staff fulfilled the order using a mobile device. The omnichannel approach allows customers to arrange a curbside pickup within an hour window. Sobeys currently has an automated fulfilment center in Toronto and is constructing another one in Montreal. There is another plan for another two in Western Canada. The company plans to expand this service to cater to more than three quarters of the Canadian population. Over the next few years this service would be available in hundreds of stores around the company. This shows how the very concept of grocery shopping has changed. Sobey’s is betting big on this. Considering it is the second largest food retailer, it is a significantly shift attitudes of the consumers base.