Metro launches additional online services to meet spike in demand

The grocer is increasing online ordering options in Quebec and Ontario with a new service aimed at seniors, and through a partnership with Cornershop

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E-commerce demand surged in Metro’s second quarter as Canadians opted to stay home or limited their visits to the store as they adapted to COVID-19 precautions, says CEO and president Eric La Flèche.

“We more than doubled our online volume over night and the current demand is hard to meet as timeslots are filling up as soon as they become available,” said La Flèche during the grocer’s quarterly earnings call with analysts.

To meet the rising demand, the Quebec-based grocery company recently added two online ordering services to its existing e-grocery offering. The grocer launched M Priority for seniors and customers with reduced mobility or self-isolating, and signed a partnership with Cornershop– the on-demand grocery app that was acquired by Uber last fall.

La Flèche described M Priority as the “modern day phone order” with customers filling out an online form detailing which products they wish to buy and in what size, with a maximum of 40 products per order. Once the form has been received and the order has been filled, a store employee will call for payment information and to schedule pickup. The service is available at 97 stores in Ontario and 135 Metro stores in Quebec.

Through Cornershop, customers can receive their online orders in as little as an hour, according to Metro. And, because orders are placed through Cornershop’s online platform, some of the pressure is alleviated from Metro’s e-commerce site, said La Flèche. “We’re doing what we can to meet the demand the best we can,” he said.

La Flèche said Metro had been looking at ways to expand its e-commerce service prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it continues to do so today. Though demand for e-grocery will dwindle somewhat after the pandemic, La Flèche said there has clearly been a step change in online ordering. He said Metro would continue to add capacity to its online grocery service and grow share of its e-commerce business.