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Dutch online grocery retailer, Picnic was founded in 2015. Since then, it has focused on differentiating itself from other grocery delivery services in two key areas. Firstly, Picnic runs a set delivery route rather than delivering to an individual shopper at their specific time and location. Secondly, Picnic focuses on pricing for the mass market, rather than the premium market. A combination of these two factors has created rapid growth and profitable sales for the online retailer.

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Waitrose has created a virtual shelf signposting a range of goods made by B Corps certified businesses. These companies are committed to ensuring that they balance profit and purpose, and consider the impact of business decisions on the environment and communities.

B Corps certified companies are dedicated to using business as a positive force, and the values of these companies are rooted in the B Corp Declaration of Independence.

Source: Waitrose

The range of B Corps goods needs to be searched for on the Waitrose website, once the virtual shelf is located, a range of almost 50 products is available to the shopper. These products range from chocolate and popcorn to pet food and household cleaning products.

What is a B Corps?

B Corps uses its profits to achieve a greater end. It’s focused on providing a more positive impact for its employees, communities and for the environment. In order to be a certified B Corporation, the business must attain the highest levels of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Within the UK there are currently 166 certified B Corps, with more pending certification. 2,700 are certified globally.

Consumer are demanding higher standards from food and grocery businesses and there’s an opportunity for retailers to capitalise on this movement. Tim Westwell, Pukka’s co-founder said, "When we each make small changes in our daily lives, our efforts add up to a much larger cumulative action.”

Ocado has released its 2018 results, referring to the year as “transformative.” Ocado Retail saw an increase in orders per week to 296,000, with highest orders per week of 340,000. Active customers increased by 11.8% from 645,000 to 721,000, although there was a small decrease (0.4%) in total basket price.

Ocado stated it expects retail revenue to grow by 10 to 15 per cent this year, but suggested that investment in supply chain developments, primarily distribution centres would impact profit. Tim Steiner, Chief Executive said, “Creating future value now will involve us continuing to scale the business, enhancing our platform, enabling our UK retail business to take advantage of all its opportunities for growth, and innovating for the future.”

Investment in UK distribution network

Distribution and administration costs for fulfilment and delivery operations (including head office costs) increased by 15.2% in 2018. With the new customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Erith, London, opening mid-2018 and a significant capital expenditure investment in the Hatfield site, total costs for new CFCs in 2018 were £80.3million.

In December 2018 Ocado confirmed that its new customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Erith was processing over 30,000 orders per week. This, combined with ongoing robotic picking tests at the Andover CFC, demonstrate Ocado is continuing to innovate and experiment with new technology to improve its offer.

Ocado Smart Platform

Ocado announced several partnerships over the last year, securing agreements to develop its Ocado Smart Platform with Sobeys in Canada, ICA in Sweden and a deal with Kroger in the USA.

Source: Ocado

One-hour service

Ocado also announced that it is preparing to launch “Zoom”, a one-hour delivery service with a smaller basket size than the usual Ocado order. Zoom has been compared to Amazon’s Prime Now delivery service and will be trialled in London in spring 2019.

Ahold Delhaize USA has partnered with start-up Deliv to provide customers with same-day delivery for online orders.

The new service will initially be available at checkout to Giant Foods and Martin’s shoppers who order from Peapod. The retailer hopes to expand the service to other banners in the US soon.

JJ Fleeman, president of Peapod Digital labs and chief e-commerce office of Ahold Delhaize USA, said the service will help to “conquer the last mile… [and to] scale same-day delivery to the benefit of millions of local brand shoppers by 2020”.

US: Giant opens an ecommerce fulfilment hub

The banner is also set to open a new online pickup centre under a new brand, Giant Direct Powered by Peapod. The 3,530 sq. m centre, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will provide walk-up and drive-up collection for online orders. There will also be a room where customers can place orders from tablets as well as autonomous robots, which will offer support.

Giant Food stores’ ecommerce business was previously known as “Peapod by Giant”. The change and creation of a new facility reflects Ahold Delhaize’s new go-to-market strategy for its ecommerce operations. It also marks the first dark-store conversion, helping to widen the brand’s delivery reach.

Source: Ahold Delhaize

Netherlands: Albert Heijn grows lettuce on water

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Albert Heijn has started selling six types of lettuce that have been grown on water. These include, Butter Lettuce, Red and Green Oak Leaf Lettuce, Frisee, Lollo Rossa and Batavia. According to the retailer, the “taste, nutritional values and shelf life of these lettuce varieties are comparable to those from the open ground”.

The retailer explained that the growing and transport of lettuce takes place within the Netherlands throughout the year. “Only in winter does a small percentage of lettuce come from Spain, for example, which saves a lot of transport costs and emissions”. Hydroponically grown plants therefore have a smaller sustainable footprint than traditionally grown plants.

Source: Albert Heijn

The move follows Albert Heijn’s earlier trial of a fixture which let shoppers harvest their own lettuce. The retailer worked with lettuce suppliers and Dutch company Hrbs to supply its store in Gelderlandplein, Amsterdam.

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