Supermarket giant Countdown has launched New Zealand’s first purpose-built online store in Auckland to see to the growing demand for online shopping delivery.
The retailer said the new 8800sqm store in Auckland’s Penrose, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will service up to 7500 online orders a week and will significantly ease the pressure of staff at its other 10 busy Auckland supermarkets.
The supermarket includes a butchery, bakery, shelves of packaged grocery items, fresh fruit and vegetables, but no customers. Just 200 personal shoppers.
Sally Copland, Countdown digital general manager, said the new e-store will allow people to shop from home and give more space to their other stores for customers who prefer to shop in person.
“Demand for Countdown’s online shopping service was in significant growth even before the Covid-19 outbreak but the situation we are now in has made it even more critical to Penrose opening on time,” Copland said.
“With New Zealanders staying home for the lockdown, visits to our website have increased 300 per cent. We are seeing 10 times the amount of customer registrations than we normally would each week, and additionally we have now delivered groceries to tens of thousands of New Zealanders who registered for our priority assistance service.”
Copland said this means their new store dedicated to serving online shoppers is more important than ever.
Countdown said the first delivery trucks will leave the store at 6 a.m. daily with the final deliveries taking place at 7 p.m. every evening. When orders are not being picked, the e-store will be replenishing more than 25,000 products.
Online pick up orders will continue to be fulfilled and collected from local stores, with increased windows available at each store due to moving delivery orders to the Penrose e-store.
To further the store’s efficiency, Countdown announced it has partnered with Boston-based eGrocery startup Takeoff Technologies to soon introduce a partially-automated micro fulfilment solution at the site. This means personal shoppers can easily access packaged goods without having to walk up and down store aisles.
“While it’s challenging at the moment, ultimately today’s customers want to order and receive their grocery shopping on the same day,” Countdown said. “This innovative technology quickly picks and moves the most popular grocery items to our personal shoppers on a conveyer belt meaning they can fulfil even more orders with ease.”
Fresh fruit and vegetables as well as meat, fish, deli items and slower-moving goods will continue to be selected manually to ensure top quality, the retailer added.
The new technology comes into operation later this year and will increase the service capability to 15,000 online orders a week. Until then, personal shoppers will pick all groceries manually. No jobs will be replaced by the technology.
Countdown’s new e-store will service online delivery orders from the following Auckland supermarkets: Mt Wellington, St Johns, Three Kings, Mt Eden, Botany, Manukau City Mall, Meadowlands and Manurewa, with Grey Lynn Central and Ponsonby to be included at a later date.
In response to the recent increased demand, Countdown has temporarily closed its Grey Lynn Central, Northwest, Tauranga and Moorhouse stores to convert them to online orders only, and has redeployed team members from its Albert Street Metro and Cable Car Lane stores to support other stores’ online shopping needs.