- United Supermarkets is enhancing its grocery pickup service with satellite technology that allows customers to share their location using a smartphone as they drive to the store and signal their arrival in the pickup zone, according to a press release.
- The GPS-based system, provided by Radius Networks, allows store employees to prioritize order preparation based on when shoppers will arrive and meet peoples’ vehicles as they pull up to collect their groceries. The system also cuts down on waiting time for customers.
- United, a wholly owned unit of Albertsons that operates stores in New Mexico and Texas, joins grocers including SpartanNash and Lowes Foods that have already adopted Radius’ location-aware e-commerce system, known as FlyBy.
Grocers and vendors have been devising ways to make e-commerce operations more convenient and reliable for customers, who have had to contend with difficulty scheduling pickup times, widespread out-of-stocks and other problems as interest in online grocery shopping has increased. A core part of that effort involves cutting the time it takes to fulfill orders and get groceries into the hands of customers.
United, owner of banners including United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos, is part of a growing number of food retailers that allow customers to share their location to help store employees manage fulfillment operations and find peoples’ vehicles rapidly when they pull up. Walmart and Target have been using location-based technology for a while, paving the way for other players to follow suit.
SpartanNash reported in 2019 that its use of Radius’ system as part of its pickup operations has reduced wait times from eight minutes to almost zero.
Grocers are bringing e-commerce services to more locations. Aldi said in May that it would boost the number of stores where it offers pickup services in partnership with Instacart. Days later, Bi-Lo announced a deal with the e-commerce provider to bring delivery services to more than 70 locations, and C&S Wholesale Grocers said it would work with Instacart to offer online ordering services to more than 3,000 independent grocery retailers.
Companies are also adding new services and adjusting their operations to fill a higher volume of orders. Giant Eagle and Whole Foods have dedicated stores to e-commerce fulfillment, while retailers such as Hy-Vee and Walmart have added express delivery services that promise extra-fast service at an extra cost.