And it is a concept that will eventually be rolled out across the country.
The new initiative offers what parent company Empire Company Limited calls cutting-edge online grocery home delivery that is now available in Vaughan and coming soon to the rest of the GTA. The concept delivers from an automated warehouse where robots assemble orders and Voilà teammates safely deliver them direct to the customer’s home with minimal handling. And Voilà offers grocery essentials from Sobeys alongside customer favourites from Farm Boy and health and wellness products from Well.ca.
“Voilà by Sobeys is the future of online grocery retail in Canada, and now it’s here,” said Michael Medline, President & CEO of Empire, in a statement. “Ocado’s technology gives us the best e-commerce platform in the country – there’s nothing like it in North America. We can’t wait to share Voilà with our customers in the GTA this summer and across Canada in the future.”
The company said the concept has a freshness guarantee and products at affordable prices with no hidden fees, delivered straight to customers’ doors in convenient one-hour delivery windows. Customers are able to order online at Voila.ca or by downloading the Voilà mobile app.
“Canadians deserve a better way to shop for groceries online,” said Sarah Joyce, SVP, Ecommerce of Empire. “Because Voilà delivers customers’ orders directly from an automated warehouse, we have tremendous control over the freshness and quality of our products and the reliability of our deliveries. Our teammates are ready to provide best-in-class service to our customers.
“Obviously we have seen just an unprecedented growth of ecommerce grocery in Canada recently with COVID-19 as Canadians are looking for ways to eat more at home and cook more at home and safe ways to get their groceries.
“For us, this is an investment that has been a couple of years in the making.”
Empire said Voilà is powered by Ocado Group plc’s industry-leading technology and fills orders through its state-of-the-art automated Customer Fulfillment Centre in Vaughan. At capacity, Voilà will bring about 1,500 jobs to the area, including operations, delivery, and customer service teammates. A second CFC is currently being built in Montreal to bring Voilà par IGA to major cities in the province of Quebec as well as Ottawa, said the company.
Joyce said the warehouse allows the company to serve Canadians and serve this new demand for online grocery “better than anybody else who does this.”
“We have robots who assemble the orders and then we have teammates who help safely deliver those orders straight to customers’ doors. So this combination means there’s way less handling and we’re able to get fresh product, safely and reliably to Canadians’ doors when they need it most,” said Joyce.
“We will be expanding across the GTA in the coming weeks over the course of the summer. We’ve been preparing for this growth. So we will grow as fast as we can while maintaining the customer experience that we want to deliver. We’ve hired up. We’ve secured more vans. We’ve been really trying to accelerate as much as we can to serve as many people as possible as fast as possible.
“We’ve always believed that if you put three to four of these facilities across Canada you can reach 75 percent of households and 90 percent of online spend. Similarly, all of what we are seeing is just accelerating our desire to serve more Canadians across the country as well.”
There’s a minimum order of $50 and a delivery fee of $7.99. Delivery is seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The company is going to be adding about 1,000 new products every week over the course of the summer.
“Our mission is to help Canadians live happier and healthier lives through access to a broad selection of health, wellness and natural products,” said Erin Young, President, Well.ca. “We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with Voilà. It expands access to quality wellness products and a variety of our most popular Well.ca items. Customers will now have better, more convenient options that enable them to keep their health and wellness top of mind.”