Tested: Loblaws Click & Collect – Richmond Hill, ON.

It was just a matter of time before it started in Canada and now grocery store click & collect has arrived. Loblaw just opened its very first click & collect grocery store location in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill at 301 High Tech Road. At this location, customers can order their groceries online and drive to the store to collect their groceries at designated pick-up spots outside the store.

We here at field agent were curious to see how Loblaw’s click & collect service (shop.loblaws.ca) worked so we sent one of our Field Agents to “test drive” the service. We asked her to put together an order for the minimum $50.00 purchase and arrange a pick up time for the same day.

We also wanted to test the quality of fresh products in the order so the order was:

– 1 PC Shitake Mushrooms

– 2 English Cucumbers

– 1 Ginger Root

– 1 Pint of Blackberries

– Fresh Atlantic Salmon Fillet

As a first time user it took about 15 minutes to place this order and reserve the pick up appointment. The total for this order was $50.12 including the $3.00 “convenience fee” for the service.

The total time from pulling up to the click & collect station to pulling away after completing the transaction was just under eight minutes.

The order was provided in normal shopping bags and there was no promotional material such as a special thank you or feedback request in the order.

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Our Agent ranked the quality and freshness of produce and seafood as “Good.”

Loblaw has designed this new program all in the name of convenience and simplicity for customers with busy lifestyles.

Jeremy Pee, senior vice-president, e-commerce and omni-channels, Loblaw Cos. says that

“People are time-starved. Anything that drives convenience is valued.”

There are three steps customers will go through while using this latest service. First, customers will place their orders. Loblaw is offering approximately 20,000 items online that customers can choose from for their grocery and lifestyle needs.

Shoppers can shop by aisle, which simplifies the online buying process. For example, customers can choose from fruits & vegetables, deli & ready made meals, bakery, meat & seafood, dairy & eggs, drinks, frozen and pantry. Other popular aisles customers can choose from include baby, household supplies, beauty, personal care, pets, medicine & health and diet & nutrition.

When our Field Agent went online they discovered an extensive list of items for sale. In the deli meats section, customers can specify if they want thin, regular or thick cut meats and they can specify quantities by selecting the number of grams they would like.

Customers can specify if they will allow substitutions for products if an item is not available. They can also leave personal notes for products by specifying any kinds of details or information they would like to share with the personal shopper at Loblaw that selects their merchandise.

For example, they could state that they only want pineapples that are still green so they have a lot of time to ripen before being eaten. This sort of personalization is what will make the click and collect service successful since customers are able to choose the type of produce they like.

Once customers place their first order, ordered items will be saved and can be used for quick access on subsequent orders. Customers can also save favourite items within the ‘favourites’ section for quick access on subsequent orders. So, once customers set up their initial order, subsequent orders for repetitive products will not take long for customers to select online since the information will already be stored.

Loblaw research found customers take approximately 45 minutes to shop in store said spokesperson Kevin Groh. But, online can be done much faster, especially after purchased items are saved in the system and used for fast retrieval. Our Agent spent a total of 23 minutes creating the order on line and for the pick up process at the Click & Collect station.

Customers will receive personalized recommendations and deals and can also shop online by all deals and by deals on the current weekly flyer.

The second step of the click & collect service is Loblaw personal shoppers preparing orders on pickup days in preparation of customer pickups. They will handpick items of high quality to ensure good service.

The last step in the process is pickup of the order. Customers will arrive at the pickup location within a 2-hour time interval they specified when placing their order. A concierge will bring out orders, review the orders with customers and put the orders in customers’ vehicles.

When customers first arrive at the drive-thru location, they simply press a buzzer, which notifies the staff within the store. This prevents these customers from having to get out of their vehicles.

Fees for the service are $3 to $5. The most popular pick-up times cost $5 and are typically around the supper hour. There is a $10 charge for items that are not picked up.

Customers can edit their shopping carts up until a cut-off time of 11:59 pm the day before pick-up or by a specified cut-off time if ordered the same day as pick-up.

Loblaw is soon slated to roll out two more click & collect stores in the Greater Toronto area. One will be located at 11 Redway Road and the other will be located downtown at 17 Leslie Street.

Vancouver-based Overwaitea Food Group also recently launched its own click & collect service at three of its stores in the Vancouver area.

The United States and Canada have been slow to adopt click & collect but Europe has been using the program extensively for a period of time. In Britain, Tesco has expanded click & collect to more than 250 locations and is planning for the 400th store by year-end.

France is also using the concept extensively with retailers such as Leclerc and Carrefour providing hundreds of pickup points for click & collect services.

2 Walmart-kiosks

(Image Credit: Supermarket News)

In the U.S., Walmart just opened its first click & collect service on September 29th in company hometown Bentonville, Arkansas.

The facility carries nearly 10,000 items and customers can order online or by mobile phone. Customers can order the same day as pickup and orders can be retrieved at drive-up kiosks.

Click & collect is a relatively new phenomenon in Canada and Loblaw’s first test store is sure to lead the way into future click & collect endeavours by Loblaw and other Canadian grocery stores.

We here at Field Agent are optimistic with what we see so far with Loblaw’s first test click & collect store and look forward to seeing the results of these operations. Loblaw will be able to change and expand online products based on preliminary sales results. But, the quality of produce will be critical to the long-term success of click & collect.

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