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5 Steps to Grocery Pickup Program Success

A grocery pickup program is more essential than ever since the pandemic. Ensure yours is effective with these best practices.

Consumer appetite for online grocery shopping has grown significantly during the pandemic. In particular, consumer fulfillment preferences have shifted in favor of curbside pickup (“click and collect”) over in-store pickup and even over home delivery. 

Our recent Shopper Survey found that 52% of US grocery shoppers preferred curbside pickup during shelter in place, up 8% from before the pandemic. In contrast, only 38% preferred home delivery, while appetite for in-store pickup decreased to 10% (down from 24% before shelter in place). 

grocery pickup program in high demand graph
Preferred Mode of Fulfillment


This is hardly surprising, given that curbside pickup offers shoppers a way to acquire groceries that is both safe, convenient and cost effective compared to delivery surcharges.

With curbside pickup being such an important part of the eCommerce experience, it’s imperative that grocers get it right. But what makes for a successful grocery pickup program?

Shoppers are looking for a seamless online order experience that meets their needs for safety and convenience. Grocers need to be able to increase order fulfillment capacity while also ensuring their fulfillment processes are efficient and cost effective.

How can grocers build their business with an optimized curbside pickup program? There are five key areas to focus on: fulfillment source, order assembly, staffing, measuring success and choosing the right partner. 

Learn about the five key areas and more, when you download your free copy of How to Build a Successful Grocery Pickup Program.

1. Fulfillment source

Some of the most fundamental decisions you will tackle in developing or improving your grocery pickup program are around fulfillment sourcing. Simply stated, you have to determine where the items in the shopper’s basket will be collected from. 

Will the items be retrieved from your store shelves, a dark store, a warehouse or micro fulfillment center (MFC)? Or will they come from a combination of sources? There are advantages to each, and your decision must be based on your unique business situation. This will involve balancing key factors like floorspace and layout, order volume and available budget.

grocery pickup program produce being selected in store

2. Order assembly

Related to the fulfillment source is how the orders will be assembled. The picking method you choose has to match up with the particulars of your business such as staffing and fulfillment source(s). With the right picking method, you can vastly improve your stores’ capacities to fulfill orders.

Picking options include single-order pick, multi-order pick with a zone path or multi-order pick with a wave path. Mercatus Enhanced Fulfillment empowers grocers to use a combination of zone and wave picking to optimize efficiency with fewer pickers needed. 

grocery pickup program multi-order zone picking path
Multi-order Zone Pick
grocery pickup program
Multi-order Wave Pick


Regardless of your chosen fulfillment source(s) and order assembly method, Mercatus solutions arm your team with the tools you need to increase order fulfillment capacity and reduce curbside wait time for customers. This results in satisfied customers and a more efficient and profitable click and collect program.

3. Staffing 

To ensure a successful and efficient pickup program, you need to develop a high degree of interaction and integration between your IT, Operations and Fulfillment teams. Identify leaders with both the knowledge about their area of the business and the skills to communicate their knowledge to others. Keep in mind that these knowledge experts may be found in every corner and level of the organization, from head office to in-store to warehouse. 

grocery pickup program requires key people in various roles

It’s important to deploy clear, consistent and regular communications across a variety of channels. This ensures everyone is up to date on strategy and processes across the organization.

4. Measuring Success

How will you know if your grocery pickup program is successful? You’ll want to start by looking at the level of consumer engagement both online and in-store. By deciding in advance which metrics you will use, you can build in methods to capture the appropriate data needed. This also helps set a baseline measurement and identifies how you compare to industry benchmarks, so you can track ROI from launch and beyond.

For example, average wait time at pickup is one of the nine key metrics we recommend to measure your success. Grocers using Mercatus Enhanced Fulfillment can measure against our industry-leading benchmark wait time of 2 minutes or less. 

Discover the nine key metrics to measure your success, in How to Build a Successful Grocery Pickup Program.

5. Choosing the right partner

Setting up an effective grocery pickup program shouldn’t have to be a complex undertaking. Set yourself up for success by engaging a business partner with deep experience in grocery fulfillment and an extensive network of carefully screened technology partners. You’ll want to select a partner who offers solutions that complement your existing infrastructure for a smooth and seamless set up. 

The Mercatus Enhanced Fulfillment solution empowers grocers to offer a world-class fulfillment experience, from online order to pickup at curbside, and everything in between. We’ve combined our seamless online ordering solutions with Shopperkit’s industry-leading fulfillment technology and FlyBuy Pickup’s advanced location-based communications capabilities to optimize your operations and your shoppers’ experience from end-to-end.

In our experience, retailers who implement an optimized grocery pickup program enjoy benefits to their bottom line and to their customers. Grocers see an average of 30% reduction in labor costs and an increase of $10K+ profit per store (for stores averaging 70+ online orders per week). And their customers enjoy the benefits of optimized fulfillment through a convenient grocery pickup experience, waiting only 2 minutes or less at curbside for their order.

Learn how you can build a best-in-class grocery pickup program or improve and expand your existing one. Download your free copy of How to Build a Successful Grocery Pickup Program.

Want to learn more about how you can expand your grocery eCommerce program? Check out these resources:


Mark Fairhurst
Mark develops the overall marketing strategy for Mercatus and leads the team responsible for market development, branding, and demand generation.