Sobeys, IGA, M&M get into delivery

The retailers announce plans for proprietary and Instacart-partnered grocery delivery services.
Empire Company Limited-Announcing Voil-- Canada-s best online gr

Two highly recognizable Canadian companies have announced efforts to find their place in the increasingly competitive grocery and meal delivery space.

Empire has announced that its Sobeys and IGA banners will be launching the Voila by Sobeys and Voila by IGA delivery services, beginning with stores in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa and multiple cities in Quebec.

The service is being powered by a platform from Ocado Group, a U.K.-based online grocery company Empire previously announced a partnership with in 2018. Sarah Joyce, SVP of ecommerce for Empire, said in an announcement that one thing that sets the company’s delivery service apart from others is how it relies on automated warehouses to fulfill customer orders, instead of having products picked from a store’s selection.

An automated fulfillment centre in Vaughan – located just north of Toronto – that will power Voila by Sobeys is expected to be completed in spring 2020. A second fulfillment centre, based in Montreal, is expected to be completed in 2021. IGA has previously offered delivery for grocery orders in Quebec, and will continue to do so through its website until Voila by IGA launches. Quebec residents who live outside of the Voila by IGA delivery area will also be able to continue using IGA’s website for delivery.

Empire is pursuing an owned model of grocery delivery, similar to competitor Metro. That’s in contrast to Loblaw, which now reaches more than half of Canadian households through its partnership with grocery delivery service Instacart.

Instacart has expanded its own food delivery offerings by partnering with M&M Food Market. A total of 20 stores between Calgary and London will be participating in a pilot that will allow customers to order M&M’s assortment of frozen and ready-made meals through Instacart’s website and mobile app.

Andy O’Brien, CEO of M&M Food Market, said the pilot is another example of how the company is “[changing] for the better,” echoing the tagline of a brand platform that aims to reflect changes it has made to its product line, store design and shopping experience. A home delivery option also ties into the retailer’s brand mission, which O’Brien describes as helping Canadians “put delicious, restaurant quality meals on the table” in convenient and time-efficient ways.

Meanwhile, a previously announced expansion of Metro’s grocery delivery service from Quebec and into Ontario, through a pilot in the Greater Toronto Area, also appears to be underway. Deliveries to Toronto are now available through Metro’s website, where the retailer is also promoting a “BBQ bundle” offer, giving customers $50 of free food and CPG products with their first delivery order, as well as promo codes to give customers free delivery on their first three orders.