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Click-and-collect: Loblaw’s next big thing?

Pilot program could kick off Canada's online grocery age

FRANCE-DISTRIBUTION-DRIVE-IN

No, this photo isn’t of a Loblaw store. But it is what some Loblaw parking lots may soon look like.

The photo was shot in Mulhouse, in eastern France, at Chronodrive, a click-and- collect grocer.

Its customers order online, then pick up their groceries. Here, Chronodrive staff help customers load items into their cars.

GALLERY: Click-and-collect shopping around the world

Click and collect, or “drive” as it’s known, is hot in Europe right now. One in five French have used it, and British, German and Dutch grocers are investing in drive. So are some U.S. chains.

Now drive is coming to Canada. Loblaw president Vicente Trius just announced a test at three Greater Toronto Area stores. Online is “part of our strategy,” says Trius, a former executive with the French hypermarket chain Carrefour.

Click and collect probably has a better shot at becoming the dominant e-commerce grocery model in Canada than home delivery, thinks Stewart Samuel, program director at IGD, an international grocery research firm.

“It eliminates the need for retailers to manage the often costly and complex last delivery leg to shoppers’ homes, while also providing shoppers with added convenience,” he says.

Pickup doesn’t have to take place in a supermarket lot either. In England, Tesco and Asda have it at London Underground stations. Elsewhere, refrigerated lockers let customers retrieve their bags of food. In France, the number of pickup locations has doubled in 15 months, IGD wrote in a report from last October.

In Canada, Loblaw’s new fleet of Shoppers Drug Mart stores could become handy retrieval spots, says Samuel. If that’s the case, and Canadians fall in love with click and collect, Loblaw’s takeover of Shoppers might turn out to be a way better bet than anyone imagined.

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