Panic buying continues to cause empty grocery shelves due to the coronavirus panic, with heavier clusters in affected states as grocery retailers are starting to ration supplies. Same-day delivery providers Instacart and Postmates have expanded a “leave it at my door” option as more spooked shoppers opt for no physical contact.
Micro fulfillment centers are all the rage in e-grocery – small, highly automated systems that use robotics to fulfill online orders in 1 to 2 minutes. Neil Stern of McMillonDoolittle talks all things MFC in this latest MCM CommerceChat podcast. He’ll also lead an MFC session at Ecommerce Operations Summit (4/14-16, Orlando).
Amazon’s hunger for a bigger bite of the $839B grocery market was evident in the opening of the first checkout-less Amazon Go Grocery store in Seattle. The 10,400-square-foot space, roughly 5x the size of an Amazon Go store, stocks 5,000 items. Tech startups AiFi and Grabango are reportedly working on systems for competitors.
Amazon is reportedly using a micro-fulfillment center solution from Dematic at its first grocery store not named Whole Foods outside Los Angeles, sending a loud signal to the rest of the market that an MFC capability is critical to success and maintaining market share in the red-hot e-grocery sector.
Softer-than-expected holiday sales drove Walmart’s Q4 2019 earnings below expectations, but strong ecommerce and online grocery sales provided buoyancy and optimism for the year ahead. U.S. ecommerce sales grew 35%, fueled largely by grocery pickup and delivery, propelling walmart.com to its highest quarterly growth of the year.
Ahold Delhaize USA said it plans to close the Midwest division of its Peapod online grocery delivery business to focus on expanding operations in the more lucrative East Coast, where most of its stores are located. Dutch-based Ahold said the Midwest operation of Peapod represented $97 million of the $1.1 billion in online sales in the U.S.
Fueled by continued growth in e-grocery and the sector overall, food and beverage saw more growth in terms of major warehouse leases in 2019 than did ecommerce, which slipped a bit, according to a report from CBRE on the 100 largest deals. The number of 3PL deals stayed the same, while the square footage dropped from 2018.
Walmart is expanding its fleet of shelf-scanning robots, adding 650 this year for a total of 1,000 as it looks to address nettlesome grocery out-of-stock issues and battle competitors with the technology like Ahold Delhaize’s Stop & Shop, Giant Eagle and Schnuck’s. It has also launched a micro fulfillment center at a New Hampshire store.