Often it’s the big things such as improved infrastructure and services that are needed to make public transport more viable but sometimes small enhancements can help in removing barriers for new users or just improve customer satisfaction with existing users. Yesterday Auckland Transport announced a trial of  the latter kind, a deal with Countdown for people to pick up groceries at a few selected locations with the potential for it to be expanded to more locations in the future.

In a first for Auckland, Auckland Transport has teamed up with Countdown to introduce secure online grocery ‘Click & Collect’ collection points at five initial trial locations.

  • Albany Bus Station.
  • New Lynn Transport Centre.
  • Orakei Train Station.
  • Waiheke Ferry Terminal.
  • Downtown Car Park.

Auckland Transport Chief AT Metro Officer Mark Lambert says “Through this Click & Collect trial we aim to provide our customers with even greater levels of convenience and flexibility, whatever their mode of transport.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to kick off this new initiative with Countdown, who have decades of experience in online shopping and look forward to potentially expanding this customer amenity throughout our network.”

From 27 September 2016, Countdown Shoppers can order their groceries online at countdown.co.nz (before 1pm) and pick them up on the way home when catching the train, bus or ferry that afternoon/evening.

The collection points will play a part in making life easier for Aucklanders as more and more people embrace public transport.

This new service is being rolled out as a six month trial, with a view to offering it in other locations if proven successful. Currently, the five initial transport facilities service more than 95,000 AT HOP card users and customers every day.

This trial with Countdown is one of several ongoing efforts by the AT Retail Strategy Implementation Steering Group to enhance the AT customer experience.

I see this as a good move and I hope it’s successful so it can roll out to more bus/train stations and ferry terminals.

Image thanks to Geogoose

Of course countdown already deliver direct to homes and at general times you can specify but the difference here is that it appears to be slightly cheaper to pick up your goods from the station than it is to deliver – the same as picking up from a store.

I’d see this kind of model being used for a variety of services – another example might courier deliveries. Ultimately I hope it could lead to AT or perhaps even third parties developing stations into more than just the bare platforms they often are today. In overseas cities it is not uncommon to see stations with shops, cafes and other amenities built in – as a small start, my local station now has a coffee van parked up every morning.

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  1. Is the idea that someone from Countdown will be standing beside a truck in the station carpark for a few hours each evening to give people their parcels?
    An idea for the future would be card-accessed lockers so customers could pick up any time.

    1. There are services that are quite established in AU that install refrigerated lockers in locations for people to pickup from. Delivery person drops off to locker, customer gets a notification with the locker number and pin, collects,…

  2. That’s great! I wish it was New World or Pak’n’Save doing this though as I’m not a fan of Progressive…Surely they’ll follow suit if it’s a success.

    1. New World / Pak-n-save are effectively franchises, which is why they don’t offer delivery outside of a select few stores.. They don’t really have a central distribution setup that can spread the online profits around the co-operative. Progressives own all of Countdown so the money goes to a central pot so it doesn’t matter if online takes a cut of store revenue. Until Foodstuffs can sort that out, I doubt we’ll see them appearing at transit hubs for a while.

      1. I’m not sure that would actually be a major problem for New World. The reason only a couple of stores offer delivery right now is that New World is still testing their systems before rolling out nationwide, whereas Countdown (through it’s acquisition of Foodtown) has far more experience and a more mature processes and systems. After all, it wouldn’t be hard for orders to be delivered from the closest New World to a pick up point, they just need time to work on their offering first.

  3. Does anyone have the cost for home delivery and station deliveries? If the price is similar or barely any difference then the convenience of things being delivered right at your front door is much better than having to carry all those shopping from station to your place.

    1. That was what I was thinking, why get your shopping delivered to the station for you to then carry on the feeder bus and walk from the bus stop with when it could be delivered directly to your house.

      1. To those talking about “taking your shopping on the bus” they clearly don’t have that in mind. They’ve targeted parking lots so they are obviously expecting the users to take it home from their collection point in the car.

      1. If you buy 20 deliveries at a time, they cost about $6 each. We do this and haven’t been to the supermarket for years! It is worth every cent.

  4. I use click and collect from the stores, and its brilliant. I really like this idea. one issue tho is how will you put all your shopping on the bus? I guess the idea is to do bi-weekly or even daily shopping so that you only have a small amount of bags. Also the stations need more amenities. The HBC station has a coffee cart, but its hidden away – it needs to be closer, parked up on the grass, plenty of space! I spoke with the owner/operator and they said they had been in contact with AT but had no luck getting closer. I think they should just yolo it and move the coffee cart closer and risk getting told off lol

    1. I love the idea, and I hope it will expand. I would love to see it at Victoria Park, as with free bus transfers now that would service most of shore. But I get the idea that AT wouldn’t necessarily want to encourage big cargo on their express buses, which are already clogged up often. Either way I hope that this service is much faster and more streamlined than the current collection from Countdown shops… When you arrive to collect from the shop, there’s usually a 5 minute delay before you get it. Not cool.

    1. It could be a general purpose collection booth that any retailer could leave stuff for collection, pick up KFC, shoes, lotto tickets etc. Where the station is staffed with security people then vending machines and maybe ATM

  5. I can’t see this particular idea taking off.

    Why would anyone want to pick up their groceries from the train station when they can have them delivered to their home? The cost for the supplier would be fairly similar so there would seem to be no advantage in providing a station pick-up.

    As an aside one thing you do notice about NZ train stations vs overseas is that our stations don’t have dairy/newsstand outlets for small purchases. That’s likely down to the lack of numbers getting on and off the trains. Are our major stations having facility for these sorts of outlets planned into them? I was surprised when New Lynn was re-done after double-tracking that no such facility was integrated into the station. There’s more than enough space.

    1. There was a coffee cart located inside the seating area of New Lynn Station for about a year. Seemed to do a brisk business with train and bus patrons as well as passers by. I was quite disappointed when it vanished as the nearest now is McD or inside Lynmall .

    2. Some Wellington stations have coffee outlets – had a really nice flat white from the one on the down platform at Paraparaumu the other week.

    3. Deliveries to home assumes someone is there to open the door.

      I could see this being in-demand for 1-2pax working households who only have the option of picking up stuff themselves. Will there be enough in that market? Time will tell….

      1. Suits our household well, 2 pax, both using trains. Often have variable work hours to meet social or work commitments, current courier, delivery, NZ post parcels systems are a pain. We end up redirecting couriers to work addresses, Saturdays driving between the supermarkets, post shop to get parcels that the postie wont deliver. 1 and 2 person both working house holds common, empty nesters, couples that don’t have kids, apartments encourage it.

      2. Absolutely. It is so annoying when the courier deliveries depend on someone being home in the middle of a working day. My wife and I both work and we don’t get home until well after 7pm most nights. However, because she takes the train home, it is so damn convenient to order shopping at work and then pick it up at the home station on her way out. It is a big pain in the butt having to cart loads of shopping from the Countdown near her work in the CBD to Britomart but if it is all available on arrival at Manukau station, that’ll get rid of the hassle.

    4. As others have said it would be cheaper to have to collect from a station rather than home delivery (except for large shops which the service isn’t aimed at anyway). The cost for the supplier would like be much cheaper (time and fuel) as they only have to travel to one location to drop the goods off rather than a number of different addresses. The key to the whole thing is whether people can embrace the idea of requiring a few smaller shops per week rather than the big one – although with increased density this type of arrangement will be more common with smaller fridges/ storage sapces available in some types of dwellings.

  6. Papakura has a great coffee shop. The girl will have your order ready for you to pick up on your way to the train. They say if you miss the train the coffee is on them. They provide great friendly service and good coffee. Countdown is 150 metres away so maybe New World could get the jump on them.

  7. “In overseas cities it is not uncommon to see stations with shops, cafes and other amenities built in”

    Thankfully we have people who share such vision and make this happen, such as Mike Lee getting a proper building into Parnell. The best stations in Auckland are the ones with cafes (Swanson, Glen Eden, Papakura etc).

  8. I used the service today to pick up a bag of essentials from Orakei Station. Mine was the very first order apparently. I’d set the pickup time window for 4-4:30pm but then had to shift it to 5-5:30pm as my meeting schedule changed. When I got there, the truck was parked in the Park n Ride right next to the station stairs. It was a good buying experience overall and the Countdown people there, were good to deal with. I suggested to them that to enable customers to more easily take their purchases away from the pickup point, that the large black Countdown re-useable carry bags be given out as you can fit two plastic bags full of shopping into one of those carry bags. Using the black Countdown carry bags in this manner means that people can easily take their shopping onto a connecting bus service, load it into their car, load it onto their bike or walk home comfortably. For this six-month trial, Countdown are deploying branded delivery trucks at Orakei Station and Albany Bus Station and at New Lynn Station, Matiatia Wharf and the Downtown Carpark, use branded automated lockers. Apparently quite a few people used the Downtown Car Park pickup point today – confirming that there are still a lot of people bringing their cars into the CBD on weekdays.

    1. Doubt the council is involved at all, but I expect Auckland Transport are giving them free access to their facilities for the trial.

      But heaven forbid they do something that costs nothing but benefits their patrons!

      1. OK so the answer is you don’t know. If it is just free access, they should look at providing a framework for open access for any service provider.

        1. Yes Matthew, clearly I’m not omniscient!

          I hope they would have open access for a range of providers. I’d love a courier collection site myself, rather than dicking around with cards to pick up at some post office miles away that is never open when I’m about.

  9. Good to see some initiative from AT for once. They should team up with NZ Post click and collect service too, that would have much broader use then just Countdown. Really handy ordering stuff at PB Tech i can pick it up from my local dairy when i get home from work. Picking up at a station would work just as good.

  10. The proposal to include Matiatia wharf on Waiheke in this trial is causing some concern on the island. The difference is that people coming off the ferry are either going to their cars or to the bus stop. It may be problematic for bus users to get their groceries out of the locker on time before the bus leaves. There is often not much time between disembarkation and bus boarding. The trial will find out. There is already buzz about this on social media: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaihekeParliament/permalink/1085942591519531/

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