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05/13/2021

M&M Food Market launches branded grocery delivery

Same-day service available in select Ontario markets, ahead of national rollout
M&M delivery van against the Toronto cityscape
Photo: M&M Food Market

No stranger to the e-commerce space, M&M Food Market has launched its own online grocery delivery service in Ontario.

The specialty frozen food retailer is now offering same-day delivery in Cambridge, Milton, Guelph, and select Toronto locations, with the goal of taking the service nationwide by mid-fall. M&M has 316 stores and 1,700 Express locations. The online delivery is for the 'traditional' stores only.

M&M launched click-and-collect back in 2009, and when Andy O’Brien joined the company in 2014, the service was offered at every M&M location. “The business wasn’t big—it lagged behind other industries for online ordering. But I really saw the potential for M&M,” said O’Brien, in an interview with Canadian Grocer.

For starters, M&M’s singular focus made fulfilling orders easier. “We’re primarily one category: frozen. And when you have multiple categories, including frozen, chilled, fresh and dry, it makes it much more difficult to pick and hold [orders] than if you just had frozen.”

Beyond that, the big driver was changing shopping behaviour. “We wanted to make it really easy for our customers to decide how they want to shop,” said O’Brien. That could be coming in store and getting help from an M&M “meal advisor,” ordering online and picking it up in store, or getting curbside pickup. The last leg of the e-commerce journey was delivery.

In 2019, M&M partnered with third-party delivery service Instacart, and now has 85% coverage across English Canada. “For the past two years, we were planning to really drive our e-commerce business, and clearly when the pandemic hit, it changed everything for online shopping,” said O’Brien. “Our business was 5% online shopping and within three weeks it increased to 25%. Now, it has settled back down to 12% to 15%.”

While the Instacart service was going well, M&M Food Market saw the benefit of having its own branded trucks and drivers on the roads. “There is a big difference between us doing it and using a third party,” said O’Brien. “First, it’s a full branded experience where we have our own team deliver food to someone’s door. It’s our own brand and our relationships that we’re going to build [with customers].”

“Secondly, we can offer the personalized service that they get in store in terms of our rewards program, including the offers and discounts. We can’t do that when they’re shopping on Instacart. So they get a richer experience and better offers.”

M&M Food Market is launching an e-commerce platform this summer, and O’Brien’s goal is to have 95% of its stores across the country doing home delivery by mid-fall. That doesn’t mean the retailer will necessarily stop using Instacart, however.

“They’re a good partner, and it’s a marketplace, and it’s a good opportunity for people going on their platform who may not be aware of us to give us a try,” said O’Brien. “Hopefully once they give us a try, they see the quality of our food and they come on our own platform.”