Tuesday 26 May: Countdown’s brand new Rototuna supermarket has officially opened to the public today, after initially serving as an online-only store to keep up with the demand for online orders throughout the last few months.
The increased demand for online shopping while New Zealanders were in lockdown meant Countdown was in the unusual position to open the store early as a dedicated, online-only store, with no customers having been able to go inside.
Wynand Fourie, Countdown Rototuna’s Store Manager, says the team are really excited that they will finally get to meet their local customers.
“Over the last month we’ve fulfilled almost 5000 online orders for our Hamilton customers and we’ve been so grateful to serve the community this way at this incredibly challenging time for our community. We’re now really excited to welcome customers in store in person and to see them enjoy our exciting new store,” says Wynand Fourie.
Together with a dedicated eStore in Penrose, and the conversion of four other stores around New Zealand, Countdown was able to quickly scale its online capacity by 60 per cent in March and April. It also meant that Rototuna team members could get to work earlier than planned with 90 new jobs being created to support the operation of Countdown Rototuna.
The team has been proud to rise to the occasion and support the community in its time of need, however, it has not been without its challenges.
“It has certainly been a career-first, preparing to open while already serving thousands of customers online and our team has really risen to the occasion. They’re already operating as a tight-knit crew ready to serve the people of Rototuna,” says Wynand Fourie.
The new store will include a number of sustainability initiatives such as LED lighting, transcritical refrigeration and new chiller doors which will help reduce the fridges’ energy use by 42 per cent a year, and save enough energy to power 20 Kiwi homes for a year.
The high-tech store will also feature some robotic innovations including an exciting new dispensing robot for greater speed and accuracy in the in-store pharmacy and a new team member, Kai the grocery robot.
Once operational in a few weeks, Kai will identify and notify the team of any spills and hazards and also have the ability to identify gaps in the shelves to help improve product availability.
One innovation that has already proved popular with locals in the store-to-boot drive thru Pick Up service, customers can collect their online orders from dedicated bays without leaving the comfort of their vehicle.
“Pick Up has been an absolute hit during lockdown with customer feedback focused on the awesome benefits for social-distancing. Of course, restrictions have lifted just as the weather turns and we’re expecting demand to continue,” shares Wynand.