The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many customers who used to shop offline to move onto new digital channels, and companies have had to pivot to meet them there with new experiences. For the Dutch-based digital grocer, Picnic, business model innovation has never been an issue. 

Picnic has been reimagining the grocery delivery space since 2015, innovating across every dimension of the food shopping experience, including data-driven apps, demand management, and delivery logistics. For instance, while their milkman-style delivery network may look old-fashioned at first blush, if you peek under the bonnet you’ll see that their iconic little vans are custom-built, electric-powered, capped at 50 mph, and finely tuned to navigate today’s high-traffic areas.

This forward-thinking attention to detail should come as no surprise, as everything that Picnic does – from minimising food waste to maximising operational efficiency – is carefully designed with an innovative mindset, while also keeping sustainability in mind. Picnic is packed with creative ideas, and in order to power them, they need innovative technologies.

 

An innovative business model

Picnic isn’t the only app-based grocery delivery service, but it’s quickly becoming the most imaginative. Picnic’s bus-route concept was created in order to tackle two issues that other online grocers were failing to address – big delivery windows and high delivery charges. 

We have specific time slots for entire neighbourhoods, where everyone gets their delivery at the same time. We create density, which allows us to drive down cost and deliver within a 20-minute window for free.”

Steven van de Ridder, Director of Advanced Analytics for Picnic

And those unique, custom-made little vans that are quickly becoming ubiquitous in the Netherlands and Germany? “E-commerce was having a significant negative impact on our cities – there was congestion and there was pollution,” van de Ridder explains. “This led us to design and build our own fleet of narrow electric vehicles. This allows us to make deliveries without creating pollution and clogging up the streets.”
 


While this environmentally conscious, neighbourhood-friendly business model is sure to please customers, so will Picnic’s service, as they’ve made personalisation a top priority. “We launched a data-first app where we can surprise and delight our customers with the best possible personalised shopping experience, while still fulfilling our promise that they can shop for their groceries anytime, anywhere, within five minutes.”

This mix of business model innovation and customer-centricity has won Picnic plenty of fans, and they grew even more popular when COVID-19 led to lockdown measures. “Picnic has always had to manage capacity and demand,” Steven van de Ridder says. “From day one we’ve had more demand for our services than capacity.” To keep up with demand, Picnic has been opening new fulfilment and distribution centres in the Netherlands and Germany, and if you think their fleet of vehicles is innovative, check out the technology powering these fulfilment centres.

 

Technology at every level of the company

Picnic has thought through its customer shopping experience very well and invested to enhance it every step of the way. “We pride ourselves on offering exceptional customer service. You can imagine that during the first weeks and months of the corona crisis there was a lot of uncertainty,” van de Ridder states. “It was at the start of the outbreak that we were getting ready to launch Service Cloud from Salesforce. We had to change out eight different systems for one system that could do it all.” 
 


Changing over systems in the midst of an outbreak — when business was booming and their customers needed them most — was nerve-wracking, but van de Ridder had confidence in his team and their new solution.

We had so much trust in Salesforce as a platform, and in our internal development team as implementation partners, that we decided to go ahead. It was incredibly smooth — for a migration in tumultuous times, it was surprising. We’re very happy with the solution we have in place.”

Steven van de Ridder

Picnic is not only turning to Salesforce to connect with its customers; it’s leveraging forward-thinking solutions at every level of the company. 

“Salesforce plays a very central role in Picnic’s technology ecosystem. We use Salesforce for a myriad of functions, including storing, configuring, and maintaining the master data, which we internally refer to as Product Information Management”, says Bhushan Puri, Senior Salesforce Developer for Picnic. In addition, the speed of implementation is a critical advantage. Bhushan Puri goes on to say, “One of the biggest advantages of using Salesforce is the short turnaround time from concept to a fully-live application.”

Picnic prides itself on its data-driven nature of working. To supplement that, it also leverages technology to make the most of their data, Picnic turns to another Salesforce tool, Tableau, for that.

Lorena Salamanca, Tech Lead Customer Success for Picnic, says, “Collecting data is one thing, making decisions based on that data is quite another. Our data streams are so dense, it takes the greatest effort to find patterns and make decisions on them. This is where Tableau shines for us. Tableau translates all our complex data flows into insights that help the business to make decisions.”

 

What’s next for Picnic?

It should come as no surprise that Picnic is constructing a state-of-the-art robotic fulfilment centre, which promises to speed up delivery, handle increased volume, and enable close to zero food waste. Responsible innovation is just part of Picnic’s DNA, after all. As Steven van de Ridder puts it, Picnic has “a fundamental drive to explore and try new things. There’s always a new challenge and a new optimum to be achieved. That’s a very large part of the secret to Picnic.”

The New Normal will be defined by forward-thinking, innovative businesses, and for Picnic and their customers, the future is already here.
 

To see more from Picnic, as well as hear insights from Trailblazers across industries, check out our on-demand webinars and the latest product demos from Salesforce Live: Benelux.