Dutch Grocer Offers Airport Grocery Pickup, Cutting Home Delivery Cost

First it was Tesco letting South Korean commuters shop for groceries via subway billboards, to be delivered when they get home. Now a Dutch supermarket chain is taking the idea a step further: letting vacationers order groceries online and then pick them up at the airport on their way home, according to Drug Store News.

The chain, Ahold subsidiary Albert Heijn, has set up a pickup point in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for what is essentially an order-online-pickup-instore service. A traveler can place a grocery order from anywhere, then collect it at a time based on when her flight arrives. Albert Heijn is targeting the service at vacationers under the theory that they're likely to empty their refrigerators before leaving for a week or two and might arrive home at a time that makes grocery shopping inconvenient.

But there's no special reason that business travelers wouldn't also want to avoid a grocery shopping trip after a plane flight, especially a long one.

We don't have details on the logistics of the chain's approach—how long the groceries must be ordered in advance and how well the pickup area is equipped to handle perishables, for example. (We also don't know how much of the idea builds on the experience of Ahold's Peapod grocery delivery service in the U.S.)

But Albert Heijn's approach does a nice job of tackling a central same-day home delivery problem for retailers. To make money at it, grocers have to somehow pool deliveries, so the delivery trucks carry the maximum number of orders and make the minimum number of trips. That means there have to be either long lead times and long delivery windows for the orders (so the trucks' routes can be optimized) or delivery quickly gets very expensive.

But by setting up a delivery point in a high-traffic area, Albert Heijn can gang multiple orders easily, and because the customer pickups are based on scheduled arrival time the grocer should be able to narrow delivery windows. Better still, an airport pickup point serves as a highly visible promotion for the service in a way individual home delivery never could.

For more:

- See this Drug Store News story

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