GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Inside SpartanNash’s new micro-fulfilment center in Caledonia Township, shelves are stocked with just about every grocery a shopper would want, from milk and eggs to produce, meat and pasta.
What you won’t find: cashiers.
The 55,0000-square-foot warehouse was built and designed to serve Fast Lane, the company’s online shopping service that provides customers with curbside pickup or home delivery.
The service experienced big growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and company officials want to build on that by offering more products, expanded delivery times, and greater interactivity between customers and employees who fill online orders. Having a dedicated space for Fast Lane products will also free up space and stock inside SpartanNash’s grocery stores, the company said.
“I think this is going to be one of the stickiest habits from the pandemic,” SpartanNash President and CEO Tony Sarsam said Monday, while discussing the growth in online shopping. “People learned about it. They learned about how effective and efficient it was. I think a lot of people are going to stick with it. We’re seeing great growth in it still today.”
Workers at fulfillment center started filling Fast Lane orders a week ago, and today it’s providing groceries for curbside pickup at 10 SpartanNash stores in West Michigan. By mid-August, the goal is to grow that number to 24 locations, said Matt Van Gilder, director of e-commerce at SpartanNash.
Fast Lane transactions have jumped 32% since January 2020, with the number of unique customers climbing 42%, the company said.
Total cost of the fulfilment center was roughly $5.3 million.
SpartanNash, based in Byron Township, operates 148 supermarkets in nine states. Its brand names include Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Martin’s Super Markets and Dan’s Supermarket. The company touts itself as the fifth largest food distributor in the U.S., and says it’s a leading distributor of groceries to U.S. military commissaries.