A visit to the Collect&Go walk-in
The Colruyt Group has just opened a new city concept in Ixelles with the Collect&Go walk-in. Rather than simply rewriting the excellent press release, I went to the store to get a better understanding of how this new outlet works.
Designed for the city
It's actually a pickup point specifically designed for an urban audience that comes to collect their groceries on foot or by bike. For Tom De Prater, Division Manager Collect&Go, the new concept contributes to making the retailer's offer accessible to an urban public, while at the same time contributing to soft mobility: "The Colruyt Meilleurs Prix and Bio-Planet stores, and therefore also the adjacent Collect&Go pick-up points, are mainly located on the outskirts of the city and are aimed more at customers with a car. With Collect&Go walk-in, we are specifically targeting Brussels residents who do their shopping on foot, by bike or on a scooter. By setting up in the heart of Ixelles and making our pick-up point suitable for bicycles and pedestrians, we want to stimulate these sustainable trips and thus contribute to a gentler mobility in the capital.”
An extensive test but already a well thought out concept
For those who remember, Colruyt had already tested a temporary Collect&Go concept on the Place Flagey in Ixelles at the end of 2020. This first test had already allowed to gauge the potential of such concept on the Brussels territory. And it must be said that the car is no longer the first and best solution for getting around the city. It should also be noted that about six out of ten households in Ixelles are without a car. Clearly convinced of the potential of a collection concept in an urban environment, Colruyt is setting up a fixed point of sale in a neighbourhood that already has a lot of activity.
However, don't expect to see this type of point of sale multiplied in every area or in other cities in the short term, I was told that this concept is still a test.
Yet this "test" is already very well thought out and functional. Let's look at the characteristics and modus operandi in a few points:
- The surface of the point of sale is 75m2
- Customers have access to 15000 references
- The orders are prepared and collected in the nearest stores, namely the Colruyt in Etterbeek and the Bio-Planet in Nossegem. The orders are transported in a sustainable way by existing transporters or cargo bikes that also have refrigerated containers (the respect of the cold chain remains sacred)
- A shopper places his order online to be able to pick up his basket the next day
- In order to facilitate the flow of customers, when ordering, the customer indicates the time slot when he wants to come by
- Payment is only made when the customer picks up his basket. Depending on the availability of products, it is sometimes necessary to propose substitutions to customers. The freedom is of course left to accept or not these possible substitutions. It is therefore logical that the payment is only made at the time of collection
- The customer can enter the store on foot or with a bicycle and peacefully load his purchases on his bike, in his own bags or carts.
- Fabric bags, cooler bags and even bicycle bags are sold on site.
- For those who wish to unload unwanted packaging immediately, there is a recycling point where cardboard and plastic can be collected
- For those who need it, a Monkey Donkey cargo bike is available in front of the store
My 20/CENT on the Collect&Go walk-in concept
To be honest, I have been wondering for a while when Belgium would get its first real urban collection point. Of course, there have been tests in the past and even attempts at urban collection point next to stores or in high traffic areas. Think for example of the Fresh Atelier at the Central Station, or the collection points of Wink! But until now, there has not been a single Belgian player who has chosen to embark on the adventure of the urban drive or pedestrian drive. With Collect&Go walk-in, here is finally a real collection point planned to be integrated in the city and especially designed for customers coming on foot or by bike.
The bad gossipers will tell me that the above-mentioned examples have all disappeared. This is true and for various reasons which I will not go into. But in my opinion, this new Colruyt concept is likely to be successful.
First of all, there is the functional aspect. When I visited the store, I could see that the details had been well thought out. Indeed, whether on foot or by bike, a customer will have an easy experience. The welcome is personalized, electronic payments are provided, being able to load one's purchases at ease is possible in an adequate space, etc... And when I talk about details: when you go out with a basket or your bike in hand, opening the door can be a challenge. But this is not the case because the door can be opened with a simple gesture of the hand or foot. In short, all the details have been included and the customer experience is simple and pleasant.
Next to this important functional aspect, I would like to say that the DNA of this collection point seems to be fully in line with the expectations of the urban consumer and those of Colruyt. Today's consumers demand local, sustainable, seamless experience and choice. However, in the middle of the city it is difficult to set up a new supermarket. Here Hal's retailer offers a concept that clearly targets a neighbourhood audience, and can be described as a sustainable gateway to its supermarkets.
No doubt in the near future the group will evaluate this test and adapt some parameters such as opening hours or order picking times. However, from its functionality and its DNA, this Collect&Go walk-in seems to me to be already quite successful and is undoubtedly promised to a bright future. Could it be a serious candidate for the Prix Mercure 2022? The future will tell us.
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