Nova Scotia

Grocery chain to begin home delivery in parts of Halifax

Starting tomorrow, many people who live in the Halifax region will be able to order their groceries online and have them delivered to their door in as little as one hour.

Loblaws announces expansion of service launched last year in 11 markets

The Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax is part of the Loblaws chain. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Starting tomorrow, many people who live in the Halifax region will be able to order their groceries online and have them delivered to their door in as little as one hour.

Loblaws, Canada's largest grocer, made the announcement in a news release on Tuesday. It indicated earlier this month it was expanding its partnership with California-based delivery company Instacart.

The service was launched in 11 markets, including Toronto and Vancouver, last year.

According to the companies, people in the following areas are eligible for home delivery: Halifax, Dartmouth, Burnside, Middle Sackville, Upper Sackville, Lower Sackville, Lakeview, Clayton Park, Cole Harbour, Armdale and Spryfield.

Carol Delatorre, a customer of Loblaws supermarket chain Superstore, said she rarely shops online but thinks it's a great option for others.

"I think it's a great option for people. Myself, I don't like to use it. I like to come in because I'm a really picky shopper, I like to do my own shopping," she said.

Carol Delatorre says she rarely shops online herself but thinks it's a great option for others. (CBC)

To use the service, shoppers will visit or open the mobile app on their phones. After selecting the city and store, people can then add items to their virtual cart and schedule a delivery window from one hour up to five days.

According to Instacart's website, the delivery fee is usually $7.99 for orders of $35 or more, but will be reduced to $3.99 at the outset. There are also membership options for those who plan to use the service regularly.

Superstore customer Comfort Tebiri said she can see the appeal of home delivery.

"I think it's good," Tebiri said. "Maybe you're busy at work, you can just shop and come for it and it's quick and easy."

Comfort Tebiri says she would consider using the service. (CBC)

Some locations already offer "click-and-collect" shopping, which allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up while parked in dedicated parking spots.

Heather Hardiman said she has had more difficulty finding parking since that service begin last year

"One day I had to drive around three times just to get a parking spot," she said. "That doesn't make it convenient for me to go shopping and I'm not interested in someone picking out my fruit and veggies, I'll do it myself."

Two weeks ago, Loblaws said it was expanding the grocery delivery service to regions such as Halifax, Regina and Montreal.

Canadian grocers have recently started to focus heavily on their e-commerce offerings, including home delivery options, after retail titan Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market and its Canadian locations last year.

E-commerce encounters

Sylvain Charlebois, food distribution and policy professor at Dalhousie University, said Canadians are buying around one per cent of their food online and that the market is "highly underdeveloped."

But he is optimistic about where the market is heading.

Sylvain Charlebois, food distribution and policy professor at Dalhousie University, says Loblaws is using 'very aggressive strategies' to beat Amazon. (CBC News)

"If you engage the consumer and you keep them active and part of the process, I think it could actually make a difference," said Charlebois. 

He said national retailers like Loblaws and Sobeys are aiming to increase their virtual footprint in order to stay competitive. 

"The Amazon effect is really forcing grocers to think differently about the consumer," says Charlebois. 

Providing the convenience of offering online and/or home delivery is what has made online retailers like Amazon such a huge competitor for grocers. 

"I think the incentive is about being the first mover. Loblaws has been pretty clear over the last year or so that they wanted to blanket the Canadian market, they want to deploy very aggressive strategies to beat Amazon," said Charlebois.