Jean-Philippe Magré, Head of the store-owner cooperative E. Leclerc in Poland explained in an interview with newspaper Wiadomości Handlowe that he does not foresee the development of Drive click & collect in Poland.
"As much as we would like to take advantage of our experience in the French market and move the project to Poland, we do not see such an opportunity yet. I believe that in the next 3-4 years the market will not be ready for a Drive solution, just like a Polish customer. It is also a matter of analysing the finances of the project, which needs to pay off." he said. "In my opinion, a Click & Collect service has a much better chance. [...] The network of shops that support Click & Collect may be much denser and the use of this service may be much more convenient for the Polish consumer than Drive." he added.
From a European perspective, Drive click & collect remains first and foremost a French phenomenon. This method, requiring shoppers to drive to collect online orders at a pick-up station is objectively less cost intensive than home delivery, particularly on low margin groceries. The fact that E. Leclerc - the Drive champion in France - is raising doubts as to the potential of this format in Poland simply correlates with the lackluster experiences recorded by many retailers across Europe. In Germany for instance, retailers have shelved their experiments one after the other.
A great number of factors are understood to contribute to the dominance of one type of online grocery fulfillment over another, such as the retail landscape, household structure, consumer acceptance, and of course the competitiveness of the offering. Looking at a few of these points, the time-saving value of Drives for weekly top up purchases is diluted. In France, hypermarkets have a market share of 38%, against less than 16% in Poland. The Polish consumer therefore already has access to a dense network of shopping alternatives close to home.
Meanwhile whilst the hypermarket remains at the centre of French retail market dynamics, price-aggressive discounters account for as much as 30% of the Polish market, LZ Retailytics data shows. This highlights particularly the price-sensitive nature of Polish shoppers. Retailers are therefore left with tight resources for online experimentation, aside from the more affluent fringes of society willing to pay for the convenience of home delivery. All LZ Retailytics' Online Grocery Sales in Poland were fulfilled by home delivery in 2016, but retailers are progressively experimenting with click & collects, particularly for non-food, and this could pave the way for similar grocery ventures going forward.
Poland remains at an early stage, but still ranks 24 out of 40 in terms of online grocery sales per capita in Europe. While Drives are unlikely to be relevant in the medium term, grocery e-commerce is gaining ground across Europe, and Poland is unlikely to be an exception.