How Grocery Stores are Turning Airports Into Pick-Up Locations

Posted in Europe, Finland, Netherlands, On the Ground

Imagine this: you’re on a plane with wifi returning home from a week away. You know your fridge is empty, but your plane lands at 11:00pm and the thought of going grocery shopping when you land or before work tomorrow makes you want to jump out of the Exit Row. If you could order groceries that would be waiting for you at the airport when you landed, you’d do it, right? That’s the hope of a few different European grocery services.

Last year, Dutch supermarket chain Abert Heijn launched a new Pick-Up Point at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport which allows travelers (and airport employees) to order groceries through their cutely-named Appie app and pick them up upon arrival at the airport. Just last week, the Finns got into the game with a partnership between Digital Foodie and Helsinki’s HOK-Elanto grocery chain to do pretty much the same thing. One cool feature of the Helsinki program is that your groceries are stored in a cool locker, similar to the ones Amazon has been rolling out in the US, where all you need to do to retrieve your order is enter a code that’s been texted to you. All of a sudden, that long trip to the grocery has been removed from your schedule. Cool, right? I think so. Although I have some reservations.

Is there a line between laziness and efficiency? Or are they just two sides of the same coin? I think it’s the latter and I think the coin has a picture of Al Gore (inventor of the Internet, duh) smiling on the front and a picture of a MacBook on the other. The Internet has taken all sorts of things that used to take up time and turned them into chores for other people. You can now hire virtual assistants to do remedial tasks for you from across the globe. You can order books and have them sent directly to your house or — even more lazifficient (consider the term now-coined!) — you can download a digital file to your digital device from the library and read it there. Who needs actual libraries when you’ve got eBooks? This new evolution in grocery shopping is just the latest step in a long line of technological advancements that save us time — but at what cost?

I like grocery shopping. I like strolling through the aisles and seeing what looks good. I don’t go in with a shopping list, I go in with an open mind and put meals together based on what I see. It ignites my creativity. It doesn’t anymore. Now it feels like a chore. That’s because I’ve started to use AmazonFresh and Google Shopping Express, which allows me to have groceries and grocery-like things delivered directly to my door. Both offer free trials for an extended period of time — although, full disclosure, I cancelled my AmazonFresh subscription as soon as it ended and may do the same with Google Shopping Express — and both save massive amounts of time. The Google one is especially valuable because they’ll go to Costco for you and deliver it to your doorstep. If I can save a trip to Costco, I’m a happy guy. That place is a nightmare (unless the samples are good that day). Sadly, though, these tech advancements mean that I have now lost my joy for grocery shopping because I found a more convenient way. Is that what technology is accomplishing? Efficiency at the expense of enjoyment? Theoretically, it should open my schedule up to do other things with that time but all I’m really doing is checking and BoardingArea more. Is that progress? I don’t have the answer. Just something I think about sometimes.

In any case, if I’m ever flying through Finland, I’m totally ordering this Karl Fazer Blue Pear & Almond Finnish Dark Chocolate Bar for when I land.





    • That’s awesome. I think this is only the beginning. While the whole “let us carry your bags to the car for you” was just the beginning, I think we’ll see a lot more digital innovation in the grocery space.

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