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Dominion launches online shopping in Newfoundland and Labrador

Adam Jardine, director of digital marking with Loblaw Digital, says the company’s online grocery shopping service has already proven to be a success in other markets, and mature markets such as Calgary are seeing continually increasing demand.
Adam Jardine, director of digital marketing with Loblaw Digital, says the company’s online grocery shopping service has already proven to be a success in other markets, and mature markets such as Calgary are seeing continually increasing demand. - Kenn Oliver

All 11 locations across the province to offer PC Express pickup by end of May

By the end of May, regular customers at Dominion stores in Newfoundland will never have to physically step foot inside any of the grocery giant’s stores ever again if they so choose.

The chain, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loblaws Cos. Ltd., officially launched its online grocery shopping at two St. John’s locations on Tuesday, with plans to roll it out at the remaining nine stores over the next six weeks.

“It’s been a really great success for us so far,” Adam Jardine, director of digital marketing with Loblaw Digital, told reporters at the Memorial store, one of the two to first offer the service, the other being the Blackmarsh Road location.
“We started with a small pilot in 2014 and it now stretches as far west as Vancouver and as far east as St. John’s. It’s really resonating with customers and we’re seeing great feedback so far.”

By visiting and registering at nfldgrocery.ca or newfoundlandgrocerystores.ca, customers then choose a store where the PC Express pickup option is available and then choose a two-hour time slot between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. during which they can pick up their order.

“When you think about the flexibility of being able to shop groceries online and pick a time that’s most convenient for you within a two-hour window, that’s really resonated with a lot of people, but we’re also seeing a lot of seniors, who just don’t have the capacity to come out to the store and shop the entire store, really gravitate towards the service as well,” says Jardine, a native of Mount Pearl who has been with the company for five years.

From there, customers can browse the store’s entire selection of food products, health and beauty aids, household supplies, ready-made food, and flowers, and add them to a virtual cart, which is passed to a personal shopper at the store. (Products such as prescription drugs, housewares, toys, tobacco and lotto are not available, while apparel from the chain’s clothing brand Joe Fresh is already sold through its own dedicated website.)

Food is stored on shelves and in a temperature-controlled refrigerator near the customer service desk until the customer shows up and parks in a designated PC Express parking spot, where the personal shopper will deliver the groceries directly to the vehicle and accept payment.

If the customer wants a certain cut of meat or bananas of a certain ripeness, there’s space for comments.
“If you’re very specific about your avocado, you want it ripe because you want to make guacamole that day, you can absolutely leave that comment and that’s shown to the personal shopper and they’ll pick that avocado perfectly for you,” explains Jardine.

And since freshness is paramount for making this service a success, Loblaws has instituted a 72-hour freshness guarantee on perishable products whereby the company will provide customers with a refund or a voucher for their next online order.

From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday to Friday the service costs $3, but it’s $5 in the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. slot and on weekends.

Dominion isn’t the first grocery chain in this province to offer online shopping. Newfoundland-based Coleman’s launched its online shopping — with the slogan, “We’ll shop for you like we would for ourselves” — in March 2011, recognizing that some customers were already emailing store managers with the grocery lists.

“Coleman’s has always been the reach out point, I think, for people in communities who are shut in, or seniors, or they’re working parents, because I think they just feel comfortable with us,” said Coleman’s spokewoman Judy Bennett, noting that the five stores where the online shopping is available regularly receive orders and they also take them via fax and over the phone.

“We don’t feel that we will be significantly impacted by others entering into this market, as we are somewhat unique with our level of friendly service and the quality of our products. Plus, we deliver right to the customer’s door or office.”

Coleman’s order assembly fee is slightly higher, at $6 plus taxes, and delivery costs $5.95 plus taxes, but it’s free for seniors.

Loblaws, meanwhile, has partnered with California-based Instacart to offer delivery in 15 markets at present, and Jardine says as that company continues its rollout across Canada, Loblaws will follow them.

“They are approaching Halifax and as they continue to move east we’ll be with them.”

St. John’s-based Belbin’s Grocery also offers online grocery shopping and delivery, but declined comment for this story.

As for the other major grocery players in the province, Walmart started in Ottawa and has been moving west, recently launching online grocery orders in Vancouver.

Nova Scotia-based Sobeys, meanwhile, announced in January it is taking steps toward online grocery shopping.

“We currently have e-commerce home delivery or store pickup options in Quebec and in B.C.,” Paul MacLeod, Sobeys VP for store operations in Atlantic Canada, told The Telegram.

“Sobeys also recently announced a partnership with Ocado to bring the world’s most innovative online grocery platform to Canada.

“The early stages of our plan include building our first customer fulfilment centre in Ontario to begin home delivery in the spring of 2020. We will share more details as this plan unfolds. We have big plans to build the best e-commerce solution in Canada, but will always stay focused on proudly serving our customers in our stores.”

— With files from The News in New Glasgow, N.S.

kenn.oliver@thetelegram.com
Twitter: kennoliver79

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