There appears to be no end to European innovation in grocery shopping as this BBC video makes clear:Vodpod videos no longer available.
The company in question is La Maison Shopping Services. I suspect that this business started to serve those who were loyal to peculiar British brands with little or no distribution in France. Now a much bigger opportunity exists because the UK has so far turned up its nose at the euro while France is on the multi-country currency. If you are a British expat living in France but on a pound-denominated income, the pound’s slide against the euro has taken a serious bite out of your purchasing power. La Maison then steps in letting you shop in the UK (with a total bill in pounds) with delivery to France. The curious thing is that La Maison appears to be solely a delivery firm. You don’t order from them; you have your stuff delivered to them. Here’s how their website explains things:
1. Register with us, this will enable us to confirm that we are able to give you the service that you want in the area that you live. …
2. Book a delivery slot before you shop; this will avoid disappointment of there being insufficient space on the vehicle operating the service. Any deliveries that arrive at our UK depot will either be refused or held until the next available slot to bring your goods. NB Any chilled items delivered and held over will be at the clients cost.
3. Orders which include chilled goods must be delivered to the depot between 9.00 – 12.00 the day before your delivery is due, there is less pressure for other items.
4. Arrange to have your shopping delivered to our UK Depot: La Maison Shopping Services.
5. On your appointed delivery day we will contact you and let you know the time we will be arriving at the designated drop-off point. We will also notify you by email if there are any major delays, weather, traffic etc, this will ensure that you are not wasting your time if there are major transport issues.
6. Once you have finished your shopping and told us what to expect we will ensure deliveries are made and if any supplier fails to deliver we will notify you as quickly as possible.
This is an interesting business model. The biggest challenge I see is keeping customers happy when so much of the process is out of the firm’s control. La Maison can provide value only if Asda or Tesco are reliable in getting the goods to their depot. I am sure that customers at some level understand that their food isn’t all there because Tesco dropped the ball but that is still a reason not to use La Maison again. There also seems to be the possibility for dissension on who is responsible for, say, damaged goods or incomplete orders. What happens, for example, when an item is broken or missing (and La Maison has signed for it)? Finally, I am curious about how they manage space/capacity for deliveries. Customers need to book a delivery slot before they schedule a delivery from a retailer. If La Maison aims for a reasonably high utilization of its delivery fleet, they are occasionally going to run out of space.