The rise of pandemic e-commerce is forcing food retailers to improvise and innovate.
The pandemic has served as high-octane fuel for e-commerce, forcing food retailers to respond in various ways, including via expanded delivery and curbside pickup services. For West Sacramento, California-based Raley’s, the most recent response reportedly involves turning an old high-profile store into an e-commerce fulfillment center.
In April, as the pandemic was forcing many consumers to stay at home, the food retailer opened a new, 55,000-square-foot flagship store in Sacramento. Among other favorable features, that new store “can process up to 250 orders for pickup or delivery per day. Not only that, but pickup customers have access to covered, pull-through parking spots, and the proximity of those spots to online ordering, eCart [and] storage will significantly reduce the wait time for customers when they arrive,” the report said.
At the time, the plan for the old Raley’s store was to close it after all inventory was sold, and then find a new tenant for the building. That plan has changed, at least for now.
“The company has temporarily transitioned the older store into an e-commerce fulfillment center,” noted the report, which quoted a company spokesperson as saying that the change came about thanks to “increased e-commerce demand” during the ongoing pandemic.
Over the past few years, as more grocery shoppers have embraced online and mobile channels, Raley’s has invested more in such services, including same-day delivery and partnering with Instacart. Broadly speaking, online grocery spending in the United States has increased 65% between May and March, reaching $6.6 billion, according to Brick Meets Click, a Barrington, Illinois-based research firm.
Privately owned and family-operated Raley’s operates 129 stores under five banners: Raley’s, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods, Food Source and Market 5-ONE-5. The company is No. 59 on PG's 2020 PG 100 list of the top grocers in North America.