By Mario Toneguzzi
Grocery shopping is getting faster and easier across the country with the expansion of the unique services being offered by Toronto-based Penguin Pick-Up - a network of 76 free, convenient pick-up locations for online purchases.
Just recently the company announced the grand opening of two new Penguin Pick-Up/Walmart locations at Yonge and Eglinton and Queen's Quay.
Egil Moller Nielsen, senior vice-president and head of Penguin Pick-Up & Penguin Fresh, said the company began three years ago.
“Penguin Pick-Up is a network of locations which you can ship your online orders to on your behalf and at the same time the retailers can use our network to distribute online orders,” said Nielsen.
“The benefit for retailers is that they save a lot of money shipping many orders to one location instead of many orders to many locations. The benefit for you as a consumer is that you don’t need to worry about being home when delivery takes place. We’re trying to take the cost aspect out of the last mile. So we call it the other solution for the last mile. But we’re also taking all the frustrations away from the last mile.”
In Toronto, customers, with just a few clicks, can place their grocery order online at walmart.ca/grocery, select a convenient time and location and enjoy free pickup.
“The new co-branded Penguin Pick-Up/Walmart locations allow us to better serve more Toronto households, especially those that don’t have a Walmart Supercentre nearby,” said Daryl Porter, Vice President of omni-channel operations and online grocery at Walmart Canada, in a statement. “We continue to invest in services to make every day easier for busy Canadians and that includes offering greater flexibility and convenience to shop for groceries.
“Right now, this format is still new for us. The Pick-Up locations are an important part of our urban/city strategy and they could definitely work in other markets. However, we don’t have anything to announce at this time.”
Penguin Pick-Up has 37 locations in the Greater Toronto Area. The company’s physical locations are branded with signage. Customers can ship anything to Penguin Pick-Up from any online retailer in the world.
Nielsen said the company’s growth has been at “a pretty good pace” since its inception. When asked how many locations he foresees eventually, he replied: “Hundreds.”
“But we really want to follow where retailers and consumers are having the biggest challenges to meet,” he said. “Over time, we found that in particular urban areas, and in particular in areas where there’s high density . . . that’s where the biggest challenge comes in to the last mile. It’s not our only focus but that’s where we see that we are solving an immediate problem for retailers and consumers.”
Nielsen said the Penguin Pick-Up locations are equipped with freezers and coolers to store food. The locations, which are open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, can store fresh and frozen food as well as hard goods such as electronics and apparel.
Since its launch in 2014, Penguin Pick-Up has received packages from over 5,000 retailers in 11 countries.
The company also operates Penguin Fresh which sells farm fresh food - a farmers’ market online. Consumers can choose food from local suppliers and farmers.
Recently, Metro Supply Chain Group Inc. (Metro) announced that it had finalized an agreement with Penguin Pick-Up to add that company’s convenient online purchase pick-up locations to its expanding direct-to-consumer delivery choices.
“Regardless of which provider actually fulfills the last mile to the consumer, it’s the retailer who takes the reputation hit for any inconvenience that can arise during that part of the transaction,” said Metro’s Head of Ecommerce Development, Tony Jasinski, in a statement. “From ‘sorry we missed you’ slips through stolen packages, the process is fraught with variables. Offering options like Penguin Pick-Up that replace the potential for human error with a consistent, predictable last mile experience helps our retailers go from online shopping cart to repeat customer that much faster.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com.