Countdown fast-tracks Rototuna store opening to focus on massive online shopping demand – includes Drive Thru groceries

Countdown is today opening its brand new store in Rototuna one month earlier than planned, with the store initially solely focused on the significant demand for online shopping seen in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as home delivery, the new Rototuna store will offer Hamilton locals contactless convenience with a store-to-boot Drive Thru for online customers using Countdown’s Pick Up service.

Originally set to open to the public at the end of May, Countdown’s General Manager Digital, Sally Copland, says the Covid-19 environment meant the supermarket needed to act swiftly and change course.

“With New Zealanders staying home for the lockdown, more people than ever want groceries delivered to their door or ordered online for pick up.  We made the call to open our Rototuna store early as an online-only fulfilment site to help increase our online shopping capacity in the Waikato area and support more customers.

“We’ve already closed six other stores temporarily around the country to support online shopping, and last week we opened the first dedicated eStore in Auckland.  All of this is designed to help increase the amount of pick up and delivery we can offer to Kiwis at this challenging time,” says Sally Copland.

“Opening Rototuna first for online orders means our personal shoppers can shop for our customers without getting in the way of other customers in the store aisles.  We’ll also be packing online pick up orders directly to the car boot – giving our customers a contactless experience to collect their groceries without leaving the car. With physical distancing in place we’re expecting this to be a popular choice for people who are able to leave their homes,” says Sally Copland.

Operating 12 hours a day and seven days a week, the new Rototuna store will have the capability to fulfil more than 2,500 online orders each week and service the wider Hamilton region.  A date for public opening will be decided later down the track, expected to be in late June 2020.

The supermarket will also be the first Countdown store in the country to test a range of new technologies when it opens to walk-in customers, including the deployment of a safety robot.

The 6-feet-tall robot, affectionately named ‘Kai’ by the Rototuna team, will roam the store scanning for potential safety hazards on the floor, which the team will then respond to.

“We’re excited that New Zealand’s first ever grocery robot will soon make its debut in Rototuna. Not only will Kai make the store safer and keep an eye out for obstacles, but she can also scan gaps in shelves, assisting the team to keep popular products stocked,” says Sally Copland.

The new Countdown Rototuna store has also provided a boost to local employment with 90 local team members at the store, including 69 who are new to the Countdown business.

“Across the country we are putting more resource and more capacity into online shopping so that we can open up more delivery windows.  We have more and more slots opening every day, and we thank customers for their patience as we’ve navigated the last month or so,” says Sally Copland.

The new store opens today for online orders only and is located at 3 Fergy Place, Rototuna.

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