Countdown opens 'supermarket of the future' with drive-thru grocery collection in Hamilton

Countdown's brand new Rototuna supermarket will allow Hamilton shoppers to pick up their online orders via a "store-to-boot" drive-thru, the store opening one month earlier than expected to meet increased demand.

The supermarket, opening on Thursday, will initially be used solely to fulfil online orders. Its opening has been fast-tracked to meet the significant demand for groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dubbed the "supermarket of the future", the store will offer home delivery as well as "contactless convenience" for customers collecting their orders through its drive-thru service.

"We made the call to open our Rototuna store early as an online-only fulfilment site to help increase our online shopping capacity in the Waikato area and support more customers," Countdown's general manager digital, Sally Copland, said in a statement on Thursday. 

It follows the opening of the country's first dedicated e-Store in Penrose, Auckland last week. The shop is designed to solely support online shopping and delivery, with a team of 200 personal shoppers fulfilling Kiwis' orders straight from the shelves. 

Six other Countdown supermarkets have been temporarily closed to support the increased demand for online ordering.

"Opening Rototuna first for online orders means our personal shoppers can shop for our customers without getting in the way of other customers in the store aisles," Copland explained.

"We'll also be packing online pick-up orders directly to the car boot - giving our customers a contactless experience to collect their groceries without leaving the car. 

The new supermarket is expected to open to walk-in customers by late June after solely operating to fulfill online orders and deliveries.
The new supermarket is expected to open to walk-in customers by late June after solely operating to fulfill online orders and deliveries. Photo credit: Supplied

"With physical distancing in place we're expecting this to be a popular choice for people who are able to leave their homes."

The store will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and is capable of fulfilling more than 2500 online orders weekly for the wider Hamilton region. 

The store, which was originally planned to open to the public at the end of May, is now expected to allow walk-in customers by the end of June.

It will also be the first Countdown nationwide to test a range of new technologies when it opens to walk-in customers, including the deployment of a safety robot. The robot will roam the store scanning for potential safety hazards on the floor, which the team will respond to.

It has also opened up new employment opportunities in the community, employing 90 local team members. Sixty-nine are new to the Countdown business.

The new store opens for online orders only on Thursday and is located at 3 Fergy Place, Rototuna.