Whole Foods Market boosts ecommerce with dark stores

Stewart Samuel
Program Director - Canada

Date : 14 May 2020

We look at how the retailer is using dark stores to increase the availability of its online grocery service to better support shoppers during the pandemic.

Six stores supporting grocery delivery

Whole Foods Market has converted six stores to focus on grocery delivery. This week it added its DePaul store in Chicago to an online-only model, following on from recent conversions in New York, San Francisco, Baltimore, Austin and Castle Rock, Colorado. The stores in Austin and Castle Rock are new stores that were scheduled to open, while the store in San Francisco is partially serving customers from 9am to 10pm. This includes servicing vulnerable shoppers an hour before opening. A Whole Foods Market spokesperson, said

“With stay-at-home orders in place, customers have generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery. As we navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19, we continue to find ways to increase delivery availability while navigating safety measures and social distancing.”

Source: IGD Research

Temporary conversions

The conversions to the stores are temporary and designed to meet the significant surge in demand for online shopping during the pandemic. As shoppers support social-distancing measures and seek to avoid crowded areas, there has been a significant increase in demand for delivery and pickup across the US. Retailers have been responding through adding capacity, with Kroger and Giant Eagle also converting stores to support fulfillment.

Unprecedented demand

Retailers and delivery companies have been recruiting at a significant pace to meet this demand. Instacart, the leading on-demand delivery company, saw order volumes increase six-fold during some weeks in April. It plans to recruit a further 250,000 employees over the next two months, in addition to the 300,000 it recruited last month. Our initial analysis indicates that the US grocery ecommerce channel could grow by more than 60% this year, driven by the pandemic.

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