Virtual Supermarket: Shopping effortless

Article published on March 19, 2014
Article published on March 19, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Yes, it is possible! The concept store is called Wink, and it's just a few minutes driving from my place. So, I have decided to give it a try!

E-commerce is already available all over European main capitals, the concept is the same, you order online via a PC or a smartphone with a user friendly app.

Usually, you need to order at least 1 day in advance and choose your pick-up point and time frame for collecting your goods. Once you have arrived at the store you need to bring back the baskets they have already provided or just pay the caution for them (if it's first time or you forgot them); then you settle the bill and finally accommodate your goods in your car.

The added-value (main difference) of this new store is based on the customer service experience offered versus other competitors. The prices are roughly the same, but the concept itself is totally different from what we expect from a supermarket. As any supermarket offering e-commerce, you can choose among different products and quantities what you need: dairy, meat, fruit, veggies. Even you can run a search for a specific product or brand. The key difference is that you can choose to collect your order within 3 hours only! Also, once you got all your products on your basket, you proceed for payment by credit or debit card. Then you received an e-mail with your order confirmation and a QR code that you may use when collecting your goods.

So, I started my order at 11:30 am; chosen collecting at 14:00 pm and by 13:00 pm I was already driving to collect my goods. Thus, by 12:30pm I received a mail saying my goods were ready for picking up.

Once I arrived to the store, that looks like a modern gas station with a warehouse behind. I parked my car in one of the suited car spaces provided with a screen just at the right height to be easily reachable from inside your car. Then, I prompted my smartphone screen with the QR code and scanned it through the laser reader. A few seconds later my details were on screen and a sort of uploading bar appeared  to be filled, as indicating the waiting time. 

Meantime, a pop up message appeared highlighting Free WiFi is provided on facility, so you don't get bored while you wait...10 minutes later, a young man was pushing a sturdy trolley filled with large paper bags. He handed me over the printed bill and asked me to open the trunk, till then I have not moved even one finger! He put the bags inside, closed the trunk and said goodbye disappearing inside the building.

I would said this is the Top Royal Class of doing supermarket. However, is not aimed to everyone; the segment of people targeted by this firm is narrowed by certain assumptions. First of all, the whole concept itself is based thinking that you have a car; as it is not a walk-in supermarket and second they assume you will be carrying a portable electronic that might be used while waiting. (Free Wifi)

The overall experience is satisfying. I like this concept specially for a last minute shopping or for doing groceries replenishment (boxes, cans, bottles, frozen). Though, the waiting time was almost 10 minutes, which is a lot if you are "parked" inside your car, so they need to keep an eye on that.

It is quiet an innovative concept and I do believe they will gain adepts, although the potential clients they are targeting is a narrow group, still. (Tech savvy + OK shopping online + Car) So, I am not sure if the investment will be fully amortised over time. Thus, they could evolve the concept in the future to expand its target market.

As final thought, I believe "old-fashioned" supermarkets could sleep well, as I do not believe the foods e-commerce could replace the sensorial experience of buying on-site fresh products (meat, fish, poultry). I mean, chose your favourite meat-cut and watch the butcher getting it fresh&ready for you. Enjoy your shopping experience!