Jeroen Soeterbroek

What we can learn from online supermarket Picnic


We will be delivering your groceries today! We expect to be at your address between 20:00 and 20:20!”

The doorbell rings. At 8 pm precisely. Quite an achievement in central Amsterdam. No doubt it helped using a small electric cart that can be parked on the pavement rather than arriving in a large diesel truck. A smart young man is standing at your door with the groceries. He shakes my hand and says: "According to my information, you are a new Picnic customer. I will quickly explain how we work!”

The plastic bags are a particular point of attention. This is because they are bio-degradable and you can return them during the next delivery as well as get the deposit back. Wow, what personal service! You feel slight excitement when you realise that everything checks out! These people know what they are doing. And the strongly present digital component quickly makes me think of my own professional field. Because you can learn from a company like this!

The digital world and, in particular, the new services you can develop based on smart data offer endless possibilities. The founder of UBER –Travis Kalanick – spoke during a keynote about the four ‘Dimensions of Magic’ to explain his company’s success: Time, Calm, Joy and Money. It would appear that Picnic also scores handsomely on these four dimensions.

Time. Picnic’s excellent algorithm means they are able to predict exactly when the deliverer will arrive. In the morning, the app receives a notification informing you of your exact 20-minute time slot. Aside from the online ordering process, they have especially resolved the delivery problem in my opinion.

Calm. Providing a full-service solution to the customer by delivering their groceries to their door. Initially with a rather limited range of products, so I have been told, but that appears to have since been expanded considerably.

Money. No delivery charges and a low-price guarantee because you have no physical supermarkets. Very smart.

Joy. Ah well, of course pleasure is something very personal. My young daughter was delighted with the whipped cream cake we got with our second order. Personally, I think the electric carts are a huge improvement for the residential environment. No polluting diesel-powered trucks any more in the centre of the city, but a small silent cart that does not congest the canals.

"The one who follows the crowd usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been." (Albert Einstein)


Most important takeaways from Picnic

1. People will use your smart services if you are clear about your proposition. For example, Picnic is very consistent in their use of three clear USPs: free home delivery, lowest price and never having to wait for your groceries.

2. Step into the shoes of your customer. The modern urbanite is not interested in receiving their groceries somewhere in a 4-hour timeslot. Picnic did very well in discovering that this is a cause of serious irritation with the other providers.

3. The reliability of your data is extremely important. Promises you make about deliveries in a timeslot need to be kept. This requires very smart algorithms.

4. Dealing with an exponentially large quantity of data calls for a new approach. After all, the data itself is not the objective. Note: a programmer is not the same as a data scientist...

5. Digitising the entire chain. Don’t stop with the digitisation of your front-end channel, but continue your digitisation transformation efforts to include the entire chain.

Picnic’s online delivery service is an excellent example of end-to-end digital transformation. An inspiration that shows that there is scope for all industries to take huge leaps. A cheaper, more pleasant and relaxed experience that saves time. Always focused on the customer journey.

P.S. And no, we don’t work for Picnic, but this is what customers do when you really please them. They will write a blog about you :-).

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