GIANT Foods announced yesterday it will open a new physical hub in Pennsylvania that only services ecommerce orders. With this move, Giant joins the ranks of grocery stores architecting new experiences to accommodate the growth in online shopping.

Opening Feb. 12 in Lancaster, PA, the new 38,000 sq. ft. hub will be called Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod (both Giant and Peapod are subsidiaries of Ahold Delhaize). It will be a fulfillment center for orders placed online via Giant or Peapod’s websites or apps, and will offer delivery as well as a dedicated pull-up area where groceries can be brought out directly to a customer’s car.

For customers without online access, there are also vestibules at the store where customers can walk up and place their orders via tablets.

The new hub was announced last June, and as Grocery Dive reports, is a re-model of a traditional retail location that closed in 2017. The new hub will be able to serve 40 percent more customers than its previous iteration, and because it only services online orders, can speed up fulfillment of order delivery to the neighborhoods it services.

Ahold Delhaize and retailers across the grocery spectrum are making big infrastructure changes in anticipation of big growth in ecommerce. According to KPMG more than half of U.S. consumers are expected to shop online for groceries this year.

Earlier this month, Ahold Delhaize tapped Robomart for (eventual) autonomous mobile commerce. The company has also partnered with Takeoff to build out micro robotic fulfillment centers in the back of some of its stores.

Kroger is building out the first of its planned twenty robotic “sheds” to speed up online order fulfillment, and is also piloting self driving delivery vehicles.

Walmart is retrofitting a store in New Hampshire with a mini-robotic fulfillment center for faster order processing and is also experimenting with self-driving delivery.

What I’m most curious about with the new Giant Direct store is if and how people will use the in-store tablets. How big will the average orders be, and how fast will they get fulfilled? Will people place an order, run errands and return, or will they wait in their cars?

If you’re in the Lancaster area and plan to shop at Giant Direct, we’d love to hear how your experience was. Leave a comment or drop us a line.

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