Superstore now offering online grocery shopping in Halifax

Grocery shopping in the Halifax region took a new turn on Tuesday, as Loblaws launched its "Click & Collect" program in Atlantic Canada for the first time.

'It allows customers to go online, shop their order and then pick up at the store'

An employee at at the Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax gathers groceries for an online order. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Grocery shopping in the Halifax region took a new turn on Tuesday, as Loblaws launched its "Click & Collect" program in Atlantic Canada for the first time.

Seven Atlantic Superstores in the metro region now offer the program, allowing customers to order their groceries online and then pick them up at a specific time and location for a fee ranging from $3 to $5.

"It allows customers to go online, shop their order and then pick up at the store in a two-hour window that's most convenient for them," said Adam Jardine, director of digital marketing for Loblaws.

While the new service launched at seven Halifax-area stores on Tuesday, another six stores in New Brunswick will be added next week.

Loblaws said online shopping will eventually be available at all their stores in the Maritime region.

Additional staff have been hired to execute click-and-collect, and shoppers choose from more than 20,000 items.

"These people are personal shoppers: they are the hands, the eyes and ears of the customer," said Jardine. "They're on the floor of the store, picking groceries just for them."

The Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax is one of seven stores in the region offering online orders. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Online accounts must be set up using a credit card but orders can be paid for at the time of pickup by cash, credit or debit with a mininum order of $30. The $3-to-$5 fee will depend on the popularity of the pickup time slot selected by shoppers; weekends and suppertime, for instance, are more expensive.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom with a one-year-old, so this is a lot more convenient than bringing him to the store," said Talisa Edmunds, who used the service for the first time Tuesday morning. "It was really nice to have them come to the car and load it in. It's just easy."

Loblaws has been using the Click & Collect system in Ontario since 2014. With the addition of the seven Halifax locations, about 200 of its stores in Canada are now selling groceries online.

"I think it sounds fantastic," said Holly Winchester, who learned of the program while shopping at the Joseph Howe Drive location.

But not everyone is interested in trying the new service. For many customers, buying groceries can be a personal thing.

"It's probably not for me," said Karen Sullivan. "I'm good with coming in and picking out my own things."

Amazon influence

Ramesh Venkat, a retail and marketing expert at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, said he thinks Superstore's move to online shopping is in direct response to Amazon moving into online grocery retail.

"They're not quite sure what kind of impact Amazon is going to have in Canada and everybody is testing the waters," said Venkat.

Venkat said online grocery shopping in Canada accounts for about two per cent of grocery sales — or $2 billion out of roughly $100 billion. That share is expected to rise to about $4 billion in the next three years, he said.

"It's going to be a niche market, but it's nevertheless an important one," he said.

Venkat said he thinks the service will be used by people with busy lifestyles, but doubts it would be as popular in rural areas.

"There's a little bit of added cost to doing this, there's a $3 fee for every order, so that sort of adds up," he said. "So it has to be a consumer who is willing to pay a little bit more for the convenience of not having to wait in line in a grocery store."

Not as much selection as in store

Venkat said the pick-and-click approach is simple but he noted there isn't as much selection online as there is in the store.

"There's easily 50,000-plus skus (stock keeping units) in that store and about 20,000 or so they say is available online, and so it's a subset of all the items. If you're looking for something very specific, a specialty item, it may not be there," he said.

"So you may still have to go to the store. We don't know whether eventually every item in the store will be available. That's one of the unknowns at this point."

More information on the online grocery shopping is available at www.atlanticsuperstore.ca.

The seven Halifax-area locations now offering the service are:

  • 3601 Joseph Howe Drive, Halifax.
  • 210 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax.
  • 1075 Barrington Street, Halifax.
  • 9 Braemar Drive, Dartmouth.
  • 650 Portland Street, Dartmouth.
  • 1650 Bedford Highway, Bedford.
  • 745 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville.

About the Author

Paul Palmeter

Reporter

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.