In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing needs of consumers, M&M Food Market is now offering same-day grocery delivery to residents of southern Ontario with plans to roll out the concept to the rest of the country in the near future.
Andy O’Brien, the company’s CEO, said the delivery concept will start in select locations in Toronto, Milton, Cambridge, and Guelph.
“M&M has always offered online ecommerce. We’ve been offering it for 11 years where people could go online and order— click and collect and pick it up in store. The natural evolution of that has been to provide consumers, our customers, with what they want. They wanted originally to come in store. Then they wanted to shop online,” said O’Brien.
“Then they wanted not to come into the store but actually put in their trunk at curbside and the natural extension to that was perhaps we should offer a delivery service. We started originally about a year ago maybe a year and a half ago with Instacart to start offering a delivery service, which took off really well. Which gave us the insight that there is definitely a need and our customers want a delivery service.
“So now we’re testing our own delivery . . . with the vision to within the next six months that M&M will be offering its own delivery service to our customers across the country.”
M&M currently has 318 traditional stores in Canada with 1,700 express stores (store within a store) in businesses such as Rexall, 7-Eleven, and Home Hardware.
O’Brien said the goal is to provide delivery service within about an hour.
“Right now we offer an hour service. You order and you can pick up in an hour,” he said.
“The difference between Instacart and our own delivery service is really important. Instacart is a marketplace. It has all these other brands. We can’t offer our sale prices. We have a rewards, loyalty, program. We can’t offer that. As well, we can’t offer our branded delivery service.
“Our customers have really come to know that when you come into an M&M it’s a one-on-one service. Our meal advisors know our customers and we help them with their meals. We thought it would be way better as a branded experience to actually deliver the food right to our customers.”
O’Brien said the company will be launching a new website some time this summer which will allow customers to be able to decide if they want to pick up the food at a curbside or have it delivered to their homes. It will include the rewards program and all the specials.
During the pandemic with more people staying at home, they are also eating more at home.
“It’s really changed over the last 14 months. At the very beginning when everybody was asked to stay home, I think there was a bit of panic. Of course, back in March and April there was and we all know from our research that the average consumer has a repertoire of about eight to 10 meals. So when you think of 21 meals a week at home, after two months, people were pretty bored with what they were eating,” said O’Brien.
“So they started coming into our stores and saying okay what else do you have. I can’t keep feeding my kids chicken fingers every day. I’m tired of eating the same meal twice a week. We were all offering significant changes to their meal decisions by putting together meals for them. And over the course over the next six to eight months, consumers became very comfortable being at home.
“And they started going back into the kitchen and making food, realizing they can make some really good food at home and M&M has a lot to offer to make it simple and it’s a lot cheaper than going out to a restaurant. And it’s a lot safer. So we saw change from kind of panic of having to be home to really enjoying it and enjoying getting back to the kitchen. It’s been a massive change in terms of the consumer. And the perspective on frozen has changed. They look at it as a very safe, reliable, convenient, always available for you, always flash frozen at the height of perfection. It became a trusted segment in the food business and obviously M&M is a very trusted frozen brand.”
O’Brien said the company is continuing to look at new store openings with an eye of penetrating the urban markets such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and maybe Calgary and Edmonton as well.
“We’re really strong in the suburbs. We’re not very strong yet in the urban market and research has shown us that Millennials are really open to a frozen product and really love to assemble cook which is what we offer and very, very keen on delivery as we’ve seen with Uber Eats and Skip The Dishes. We’re testing that now in Toronto and it’s going really well,” he said.