Home deliveries are more popular than ever, including in the food sector. The explosive growth of home delivery is having a huge impact on the logistics chain, with new players storming the market and old ones reinventing themselves.
Why drive to the supermarket when your groceries can just come to you? The advantage for the consumer is obvious: convenience and time savings. They are happy to pay the extra cost of a shopping bag delivered to their doorstep. The home shopping trend was already on a remarkable upswing, but Covid gave the growth an extra boost.
Despite this marked growth, our traditional supermarkets have not yet fully embraced grocery delivery. They limit themselves to pick-up points and seem to want to wait and see. “The Belgian supermarkets are not eager to make big investments in a
home delivery service,” notes customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem. “They feel that the market is still too small for the moment and will only start to get on board once the delivery project can be profitable in and of itself.”
This hesitation carries a great risk. “If they leave it too late, the supermarkets will let themselves be pushed out by international players such as the immensely popular Gorrilaz. Which is exactly what happened in non-food e-commerce, with the current dominance of Bol.com and CoolBlue as a result,” adds Van Belleghem.
However, there are also advantages for the retailer. After all, online shopping creates opportunities to eliminate peaks in the supermarket, and thus in its delivery. Online shopping is less time-consuming for the consumer and therefore much less tied to the classic free Saturday.
“Creating this spread is indeed very important for us,” confirms Tom Malfroid of Collect&Go-Colruyt. But this still requires a major change in consumer behaviour. It is remarkable how few people do their online shopping on off-peak days, even if it means receiving their order quicker. Saturday remains sacred for now.”
Moreover, consumers expect superfast delivery, as they are used to with non-food orders via, for example, Bol.com. Can companies offer that speed and also guarantee the very best quality? The answer for now is “no”. Fresh food products must be constantly checked and even tasted and removed if necessary. The sky-high expectations created by the well-known e-commerce giants are therefore unrealistic in this sector.
Go for green
Another major challenge for the delivery market lies in the impact on mobility. The classic warehouses have been joined by smaller city hubs that are constantly supplied and from which small lorries or couriers depart non-stop. City centres are already groaning under the growing number of cars and vans, so delivery services are feeling enormous pressure to organise transport in an efficient and green way.