How algorithms, automation and ‘the milkman model’ are powering Picnic

Picnic delivery van

“The model of the milkman” – it is hardly a business blueprint that screams technological revolution. But try telling that to grocery retailers in the Netherlands.

Titans of the trade, including Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Aldi and Lidl, have had their foundations rocked by the emergence of an online food start-up using exactly that approach to fulfilment.

An efficient use of milkman-like fixed delivery routes, coupled with immense tech and digital expertise, has proved the basis for the rapid rise of Picnic, the pureplay supermarket that is gobbling up market share in its homeland.

The etailer, which only became operational in 2015, bills itself as “tech’s answer to groceries”. And it is easy to see why.

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