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Are Dark Stores the Future of Grocery Shopping?

16th November '21

Are Dark Stores Here to Stay?

Nearly everything about traditional retail and the physical customer buying journey of shopping in the aisles has changed dramatically since the pandemic.

Social distancing has created a swell in demand for e-commerce, curbside pick up and instant grocery delivery (delivery in less than 15 minutes) services.

Converting physical grocery retail stores or repurposing real estate into ‘Dark Stores’ is on the increase (or deemed the new “normal”) since the pandemic, driven by new customer demands. The Dark Store model has proved to reduce costs, optimise the supply chain and picking accuracy, whilst connecting brands with new consumers that wouldn’t ordinarily hit them up in the high street.

Several retail grocery chains have utilised the model and even teamed up with third party e-commerce fulfilment centres to meet customer demand. The rise of instant delivery grocery apps, promising delivery in less than 15 minutes - has also been phenomenal.

Dark Stores Are the Future

Even after the pandemic and lives return to some form of normalcy, we will be faced with a “new normal” influenced by the pandemic. Shoppers who have experienced the benefits and convenience of e-commerce, curbside pick up, and instant grocery delivery will likely continue to shop this way. Given the massive increase in the number of Dark Stores opening and expanding globally, it looks highly likely that Dark Stores are not only be here to stay but will continue to evolve over time.

Retailers who recognise and adapt and add a dark element, will likely win the business and benefit from customer loyalty.

What Is a Dark Store Micro Fulfilment Centre?

A Dark Store is a space that can either be used to facilitate a "curbside pick up" service, where a customer collects an item, they have ordered online, or as an order fulfilment platform for rapid delivery (usually 15 minutes and under). Not open to the public, the interior of a dark supermarket may appear like a conventional supermarket, set out with aisles of shelves containing groceries and other retail items.

Delivery apps send orders directly to the Dark Store. These electronically generated orders are listed according to the store layout for optimal picking and picked by store employees, who walk around the clock fulfilling the orders displayed on a tablet.

The recent consumer trend for rapid on-demand delivery has prompted many companies to locate their Dark Stores as close to customers as they can. This allows for ultra-fast delivery but smaller SKU counts. These micro dark stores can be found in unused parking structures and office spaces.

How can Lowe Help you?

At Lowe Rental, we are Dark Store experts. If you are looking for a partner to guide you through opening or expanding your Dark Store, Lowe Rental can help you with real estate and location sourcing, refrigeration & cooling system design and professionally sourced SMART enabled IoT refrigeration and remote monitoring technology. Contact one of our experts today.




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