Fresh St. unveils refrigerated locker pickup for online customers


Vancouver area grocer Fresh St. Market has launched what may be a first in Canada: refrigerated pickup lockers for people buying groceries online.

The lockers let shoppers order fresh and frozen food, then collect their items day or night from a locker.

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Twelve refrigerated lockers and eight freezer lockers were unveiled Thursday in front of each of the company’s two stores: in West Vancouver and in the Fleetwood section of Surrey, B.C.

To get groceries, a customer orders online from Fresh St., then chooses a time to pick up. Personal shoppers at each store then fulfil the order, placing items in a locker big enough for about two shopping bags.

Next, the customer is sent a text to their smartphone, advising the order is ready and with a PIN code to open the locker. The cost for the service is $3.99.

Mark McCurdy, Fresh St. Market’s spokesperson, told Canadian Grocer that customers had been asking for a click-and-collect option. A year ago, Fresh St. launched its online store with home delivery.

“Online has been growing every month for us. We’re really excited to now offer this new option,” he said, adding that it gives shift workers and others the opportunity to get their groceries 24/7.

Other retailers in Canada have added pickup lockers in recent years. Walmart, for instance, has them at some of its stores and had also placed them at 7-Elevens in Toronto.

But those lockers aren’t refrigerated; meaning shoppers can’t collect fresh food from them. McCurdy said he was unaware of any other food retailer in the country to offer click and collect from refrigerated lockers.

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Cold-storage lockers have caught on elsewhere, including England, where they are employed by grocery chain Waitrose, and Australia, where Coles, one of that country’s largest grocers, uses them.

Indeed it was a trip to Coles that convinced Fresh Street officials to trial the lockers, McCurdy said.

Fresh Street is working with Australian automated locker company Vlocker on the initiative. Coles is one of Vlocker’s other clients.

On its website on Thursday, Fresh St. was promoting the new locker option with a page explaining to would-be customers how ordering and picking up works.

McCurdy said Fresh St. plans to test the lockers at its stores for about six months, and then will look at placing units at gas stations and community centres.

“Our goal is to be in high-traffic areas that are at the crossroads of people’s busy lives,” he said.

But Fresh St., which is owned by Burnaby, B.C.-based H.Y. Louie, still intends to open more stores.

Earlier this week the company revealed plans for a third store, on No. 10 Highway, at the Panorama Village Shopping Centre in Surrey. It’s set to open in August.

The 23,000-sq.-ft. store will be housed in a former IGA that was closed by one of H.Y. Louie’s franchisees recently.

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As with other Fresh St. supermarkets, the new store’s floor space will be about 60% fresh and 40% dry goods

“We find that to be extremely successful,” McCurdy said.

H.Y. Louie launched the Fresh St. format three years ago in West Vancouver. In addition to a focus on fresh, stores emphasize service counters such as cheese, bakery, meat (the counter is called the Chop House) and seafood (known as Howe Sound Seafood Company.)

Stores also emphasize a connection to the local community. In the new Surrey store, for instance, the deli will be called Hwy 10 Deli.

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