Be a second home, for customer packages

September 30, 2011

Amazon is said to be testing delivery of customers' online purchases to 7-Eleven stores. Could supermarkets work a similar concept?

Supermarkets could format space into a secure area to receive merchandise deliveries for customers who shop online and don't want packages on their doorsteps because (a) they could be stolen and (b) they announce a house is empty.

The time is right for this concept since more people buy goods online, and the U.S. Postal Service will likely shrink soon in size, locations and available services.

By offering this convenience, a supermarket could cement its destination status as a one-stop in a broader sense. Food stores that don't want the hassle of managing this could align with Mailboxes, etc. or similar operators and locate them adjacent to their food stores. Or, if inclined, stores could set up a trailer in the parking lot as a test.

The Lempert Report isn't proposing long-term dedicated space to each customer. Rather, we suggest that supermarkets emulate a new Amazon program being tested in Seattle in which online shoppers order books or other goods from the website and have it delivered to a nearby 7-Eleven to pick up at their convenience. The Daily, which CNN said was the first to report this story, explained customers would be e-mailed a bar code allowing them to get a number to punch in to access a locker.

Presumably, 7-Eleven likes the idea of the extra traffic. We think supermarkets could make this idea work for them, especially if they offer it as a free feature for frequent cardholders who meet purchase thresholds. It could help induce more trips.