Kroger goes to school on grocery pickup at the University of Kentucky

Discussion
Photo/Source: University of Kentucky
Nov 01, 2022

Kroger has opened a grocery pickup location for students at the University of Kentucky.

“Everyone is busy juggling work and home responsibilities, grocery shopping being one of those chores. Now, University of Kentucky employees and students can check this shopping job off their list before heading home,” according to a press release.

Users create an account at Kroger.com, make their purchases, choose the Kroger Field parking lot as their preferred pickup location and select one of the pickup windows available on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. (In 2017, Kroger secured the naming rights to the Kentucky Wildcats football stadium.)

The initiative melds retail’s experiments with grocery pickup points and serving colleges, both of which have faced challenges.

Grocers have largely assigned their pickup points to inside or outside their stores.

Beginning in the middle of the 2010s, pilots of standalone grocery pickup locations came from Walmart, Carrefour and Ahold Delhaize’s Peapod received media coverage but most were soon quietly abandoned. Peapod’s experiment in 2016 tested drop-off points at three Washington, D.C. Metro stations.

Walmart continues to test one grocery pickup point in Chicago’s Lincolnwood suburb.

In recent years, Target has opened several smaller stores near college campuses in line with its expansion into urban markets.

In 2017, Amazon opened five “Instant Pickup” stores measuring around 3,000 square feet in college communities that offered college students essentials such as snacks, drinks and phone chargers for pickup within two minutes, as well as the option to order and pick up any Amazon item at the store under the typical delivery time frame. The pilot ended in 2018.

Walmart had operated a number of Walmart on Campus locations under 3,000 square feet on college campuses but now only operates one at the University of Arizona that includes pickup of online Walmart orders.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is establishing pickup points the best path to bringing e-grocery to college campuses? Do you still see standalone pickup locations as a major opportunity for grocers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This sounds like a great way to get students engaged with Kroger early on in their adult lives."
"While some of these experiments haven’t panned out, it’s important for grocers to continue to be creative and meet shoppers wherever they want to get their groceries."
"It’s R&D and Kroger can afford to invest in what could be a significant piece of additional business."

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9 Comments on "Kroger goes to school on grocery pickup at the University of Kentucky"


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Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

In college, I remember being limited to the one or two bags of groceries that I could carry the mile across campus, so this sounds like a great way to get students engaged with Kroger early on in their adult lives.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

It’s R&D and Kroger can afford to invest in what could be a significant piece of additional business.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

By offering pickup points, grocers are able to provide a convenient option for busy students and campus employees. While some of these experiments haven’t panned out, it’s important for grocers to continue to be creative and meet shoppers wherever they want to get their groceries. Much like the food truck phenomenon, grocery pickup from a central location makes sense. You can’t open a restaurant in every town you’d like to, and you can’t locate a store everywhere, either. But you can meet the demand by being mobile. This makes sense ecologically and financially for the consumer and the retailer. This hub and spoke idea for distribution could work for grocery, too. 

David Spear
BrainTrust

Kudos to Kroger for continuing to push the testing envelope. This is the way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different models, and what better place than University of Kentucky, where the Kroger name is brandished all over the football stadium. Field lots are a central location to most college dorms/apartments and offer ease of pickup with lots of space for ingress/egress. Doing this right could translate into enormous lifetime value for Kroger.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This is certainly not a new idea. Back in 2018, over 30 college campuses had purpose-built Amazon pickup points on campus. The university I taught at in China has a storefront on campus for students to pick up anything ordered online.

The challenge for Kroger will be relying on the pickup windows. It is assumed that the students will be prompt and show up. I know college students, and that is a big assumption.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Why shouldn’t students (or faculty, employees, etc.) on a college campus have access to what has become business-as-usual in the “real world.” And anytime you can create “brand love” with young adults, you start to build a relationship that could be beneficial in the future.

Mark Self
BrainTrust

Creating some loyalty or awareness in the college undergraduate “age group,” either with pickup points or locations close to campus is a great idea for Kroger and others. Pickup points as opposed to standalone pickup locations give retailers the flexibility to move to locations based on what the student population wants.

So yes, pickup points are a great path. Standalone locations are a path but not as flexible and therefore I would stop short of calling it out as a major opportunity for grocers. The bigger issue is e-grocery versus just buying a pizza…

Brad Halverson
Guest

An important part of the grocery shopping equation, especially for those more motivated by cost minimization (as opposed to benefit maximization) is convenience. Kroger placing pick-up locations at or near a college campus helps students get easy access to groceries, and creates an opportunity to improve brand preference. Kroger leadership can test this by creating product or $ incentives for students to post on social media. An excellent test bed for future opportunities.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

Professionals and students seek convenient ways to shop. Therefore, establishing standalone pick-up points near universities is a great way to cater to large audiences. However, retailers leveraging stores as fulfillment centers can also encash the opportunity of cross-selling and up-selling when customers come to pick-up their orders.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This sounds like a great way to get students engaged with Kroger early on in their adult lives."
"While some of these experiments haven’t panned out, it’s important for grocers to continue to be creative and meet shoppers wherever they want to get their groceries."
"It’s R&D and Kroger can afford to invest in what could be a significant piece of additional business."

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