- Publix is eyeing a new location in Longwood, Florida that will cater to online ordering and delivery, as well as curbside pickup, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Replacing a church on 4.2 acres, the grocery store would be fewer than 30,000 square feet, about half the size of the chain’s other stores in the area.
- Located in a heavily residential area, the store will have a pickup area, Tom Krueger, Longwood’s economic development manager, told the paper. The retailer is using Instacart for its Publix Delivery service, and has been testing a Publix Curbside pickup offering.
- The product mix will include Publix’s GreenWise organic and natural brand to compete with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. It also will have a Publix Liquors store attached to the main building. The retailer includes liquor products in its home delivery options.
Smaller designs may be a wave of the future for new supermarkets.
Looking at the recent advances of online ordering and delivery, and curbside pickup, more chains may try to put stores into already-developed residential areas to make delivery and pickup more efficient. That is apparently what Publix is doing in Longwood, Florida, about 15 miles north of Orlando.
Store size is less important to shoppers driven by convenience, and 30,000 square feet allows plenty of room for selection, as well as logistics for the delivery/pickup operations.
Large retailers have experimented with small formats with mixed success. Walmart’s Neighborhood Market concept never took off, and the retail giant is now building much smaller Express stores. Meijer said recently it is planning to expand its Bridge Street Market format to more cities. And Publix has explored building smaller stores in the past, and some of its existing locations are less than 30,000 square feet.
Additionally, going into an established residential area means Publix can tailor the store’s product mix. In this case, that means more natural and organics from its GreenWise brand.
Although Publix would not confirm the project to the Orlando Sentinel, the planning for the proposed store is far enough along that there is a community meeting set for March 7. Google Maps shows about a dozen residences abut the church property Publix is looking at. This could generate controversy over noise and traffic, which is a challenge that comes with building stores in densely populated areas, although grocers are sometimes seen as desirable neighbors, especially the well-regarded Publix.
The Florida-based supermarket chain is feeling competitive pressure in online grocery ordering from Walmart, Target and Amazon through its acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon will open a new warehouse south of Orlando International Airport this year. Target has purchased e-commerce service Shipt, and Walmart is rapidly expanding its click-and-collect online grocery pickup locations.
In a partnership with Instacart, Publix said it intends to offer same-day grocery delivery from all of its stores by 2020. Instacart is the leader in grocery e-commerce with a 50% market share of third-party online grocery companies.
To compete directly with organic and natural chains Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, Publix has launched a standalone GreenWise format, but has been incorporating more elements of the GreenWise product mix into its regular stores. Publix has been growing rapidly lately, expanding into Virginia and North Carolina. It also continues to build stores in central Florida, where it is the dominant food retailer with some 400 stores.