Canadians love drive-thrus. Most of use one or more a day to get a coffee and bagel for breakfast, a hamburger at lunch or even to withdraw some cash on the way home from work.
They’re ubiquitous, convenient and some may argue they are part of our culture.
Why hasn’t someone developed a drive-thru supermarket?
There are a couple of interesting concepts outside Canada and the learning from these projects could be applied here to our market.
In France, the third largest domestic retailer, Auchan has developed the “Auchan Drive” concept where shoppers can order their groceries on-line and then pick them up at purpose built depots located at busy highway interchanges.
There are 40 outlets already in France and more planned in the near future.
In the United States, Publix has been testing a concept called Publix Curbside. It is quite similar to Auchan Drive although the two main differences are that groceries are picked up at a designated spot at an existing Publix store and there is a $7.95 flat service fee on all orders.
The idea is essentially the blend of a new idea (on-line shopping) and a nearly extinct idea (parcel pick-up).
Given the dispersed population in Canada, a hybrid model like those employed by Auchan and Publix could make on-line groceries a viable option for Canadian retailers.
For the retailer the format could provide easier access to more markets where real estate is unavailable for a full size retail site.
And for the shopper, drive thru supermarkets would save time and build loyalty to the supermarket.
Who will be first thru the gates?