Does Picnic spell the end for the traditional supermarket?

Does Picnic spell the end for the traditional supermarket?

If co-founder Joris Beckers is to be believed, Dutch online supermarket Picnic will do to the food industry what Zalando did to fashion. He will elaborately talk about his vision for the new shape of grocery shopping at the RetailDetail Congress, on 28 April.

Free home delivery

Online supermarket formula Picnic launched in September 2015 in the Dutch city of Amersfoort. Consumers could use an app to order groceries and an electric van then delivers the goods at home for free. Picnic promises all groceries are at the lowest price possible: name brands, private labels and even fresh food. "We check 50,000 prices every night", the company says.


That is beyond remarkable, considering most supermarket chains in the area prefer a click & collect formula, charge service costs and do not give any price guarantee as it takes a lot of money to launch an eCommerce organization and margins in the food industry are incredibly small. However, there is another way to look at the situation: "The competition depends on 5 % of customers willing to pay for delivery. We target the other 95 %."


No waste

There are two barriers that need to be broken before online grocery shopping can really take off, Joris Beckers told trade paper Twinkle when he launched Picnic. "First, you have the price, because deliveries are expensive. Secondly, the long wait because of the large time periods. That is why we decided to design something that checks both boxes: a new, totally cooled food chain."


What sets Picnic apart from other eCommerce solutions? "We do not have any expensive stores, but we have smart little cars." The online supermarket prefers electric vans as a means of transportation, while it also believes online orders fight off food waste. The online company only buys what is ordered and basically does not have to throw away anything. Picnic acquires its goods from Boni, which is a member of purchase alliance Superunie.


A modern milkman

How does it work? Consumers can order until 11 in the evening, because that is when the orders are sent to the suppliers. They then deliver everything fresh in the company's central distribution center in Nijkerk. All orders then are shipped to local hubs and are loaded onto cooled electric vans, which deliver it to the customer using their fixed routes, three times a week at a fixed time. "A bit like how the milkman did it in the past", Beckers said.


That would be a highly technological milkman, because customers can now track the vans with their smartphone. That gives the exact time a delivery will be made, while also gaining information about the delivery person.

Picnic started out carefully: its range is limited to the Amersfoort, Leusden and Soest regions. Almere, Apeldoorn and Utrecht are up next, in the upcoming months. 10 % of Amersfoort has shopped at Picnic, while half of those are weekly regulars. According to Distrifood, about half of Picnic's turnover comes from fresh food. It even grabbed the prize for best starting web shop at a Dutch awards ceremony recently.


Smart minds

Picnic was founded by four smart minds, real seasoned entrepreneurs: Joris Beckers and Frederik Nieuwenhuys have a history at Fredhopper, which develops intuitive search and navigational software. Bas Verheijen is C1000's former marketing director and Michiel Muller is a self-proclaimed "serial entrepeneur" who helped establish the unmanned Tango gas station network in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Coincidentally, Michiel Muller is also the brother of Frans Muller, Delhaize CEO, who will also be present at the RetailDetail Congress.



Joris Beckers will be a speaker at the RetailDetail Congress on 28 April in Willebroek. Do you want to attend? Head to to get your seat and more information.