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What has IGA learned from 20 years in online grocery?Friday, September 09, 2016 > 09:46:47
When Canada’s first online grocery site went life in 1996, project creator Alain Dumas says it was a toss-up whether the new service was madness or visionary.
But with the number of online transactions on iga.net now topping one million annually—and growing—he says the answer is clear.
“We have achieved a volume that is very interesting,” Dumas, senior director of public affairs and digital strategy at Sobeys Quebec, told Canadian Grocer.
He said Sobeys is now running a six-week, multi-channel campaign to mark the 20th-anniversary launch of iga.net, and to raise awareness about the service.
“I think it’s the first time in 20 years that we’ve really put a spotlight on our online pioneering efforts,” he said. “But we’re very proud of the fact that we have built a service that has evolved with our customers and that beautifully complements our network of stores.”
According to Dumas, who was featured on the cover of the July/August issue of Canadian Grocer, the original iga.net received only 50 orders for the few hundred items that were available the first week after it launched.
Similarly, only ten IGA stores were involved, all of them in the Montreal area.
“Online shopping was so new, and only something like 20% of Canadians were even using the Internet, so we got more media coverage than we did orders the first few weeks,” said Dumas.
Now, he noted, iga.net gets more one million orders a year for the more than 25,000 products that are available online. Those orders are now filled at all 266 IGA stores across Quebec.
When it comes to online orders, Dumas said bananas have been the biggest seller since the get go.
“We now sell 28 tons of bananas a year online,” he said. He credits that popularity to the fact that bananas have always had the same item code on iga.net.
The same holds true for the most popular online foods, which tend to be staples like milk, eggs and fruits and vegetables.
“There is a definitive repetitiveness in the kinds and categories of items ordered online,” said Dumas.
Another notable trend, he added, has been the growth in the size of online orders.
Dumas said the average online order is now $150, which is roughly three times the size of in-store orders.
“We’ve been counting up and studying these numbers for 20 years now,” he added. “Data and experience are some of the biggest advantages you get from being a pioneer.”