Many grocery retailers have waived additional charges for online shopping and at-store pickup. These grocers want to not only drive brand loyalty, but also encourage customers to adopt eCommerce.

The downside to this approach is that, without fees for grocery pickup, order sizes have gone down. Customers are just ordering more frequently, creating more strain on workforces and adding expenses for grocers.  The adaptations from customers will further push retailers to more predictable order fulfillment strategies.  



Moving forward with eCommerce, it will be critical for grocery retailers to find a middle ground between keeping customer costs low and protecting store margins. For example, when completing a cost analysis of the click and collect model, grocers need to consider numerous factors, one of the highest is labor costs. That’s because as online orders increase, grocers will need to hire more pickers and pickup employees who are needed to de-stage orders and ready them for pickup.

Grocers also need to consider the value of click and collect from a square footage perspective. In other words, taking up retail floor space to hold, buffer, and stage orders for curbside pickup carries a cost, as well. A third consideration is the temperature requirements of the products leaving the eCommerce department. Grocers should have  adequate storage for refrigeration or freezer products. Adding that kind of specialized storage can also increase costs.

After completing a thorough cost analysis, grocers can start to look at the value of automated storage solutions. The private entry-level automated storage solution is the vertical grocery carousel. While this solution is the lower cost alternative, it still offers significant efficiencies, vertical storage utilization, fast order buffering times, and quick pick up times for customers. The next solution is the vertical grocery lift module, featuring robotic technology. These offer even greater efficiencies and more speed.

The next evolution in click and collect is White’s UPAS™ (Unattended Pickup at Store) System. UPAS is a fully customizable system offering either attended or unattended temperature-controlled customer pickup windows that are weather resilient and can be installed inside or outside of grocery stores. It provides 24×7 accessibility with high throughput and delivery speeds on customer orders so grocers can maximize workforce efficiency. Our UPAS can be combined with micro-fulfilment centers to further enhance the customer experience while preserving margins.

Reliability and maintenance costs factor into the value proposition

White solutions are made in the United States, and through our service and maintenance contracting we offer preventative maintenance, routine maintenance, education, technical and IT support, phone support, and 24-hour response times. That level of customer service can prove critical, especially for grocers. After all, customer attrition is a huge risk factor, and no grocer wants to lose customers because their click and collect pickup system is down.

Driven by the natural evolution of change and accelerated by the pandemic, grocery eCommerce is here, and it’s here to stay. The click and collect model presents a unique opportunity for grocery retailer to expand their customer base by offering enhanced order pickup, where product integrity is maintained and customers can easily and efficiently get their orders whenever it’s most convenient for them.