New Norwood grocery store takes online ordering a step further

New Norwood grocery store takes online ordering a step further

New Norwood grocery store takes online ordering a step further

By   –  Projects Reporter, Boston Business Journal

A new grocery store in Norwood takes the pandemic trend toward online ordering a step further.

At Addie’s on Route 1, the entire 22,000-square-foot store is devoted to employees filling orders to be brought out to the cars of shoppers who ordered online.

The timing may be right for consumers’ rapid shift to online ordering in the past few years, but it was still nothing that Addie’s CEO Jim McQuade and his team was going to rush.

“What we’re building is a complicated business. There are lots of aspects to get right here,” McQuade said in an interview just after the store’s official opening on Thursday.

“We took the time to build a solid foundation that we know our business needs to be successful. The image I think about is when challenged to build the tallest tower, some folks can start stacking sticks,” he said. “For us, we picked up a shovel. We’ve spent two years digging a solid foundation upon which we can build a successful business.”

The idea goes back further than that. More than a decade ago, McQuade said, he thought about the need for online-ordering-only grocery stores that emphasize convenience and efficiency. But shoppers’ habits hadn’t yet evolved.

By 2021, 61% of online grocery customers said they used curbside pickup at least once in the past year, up dramatically from just 9% in 2020, according to the industry research firm Mercatus.

Addie’s guarantees orders are ready within an hour.

Even today, Addie’s is going slow. The Norwood location had a soft launch in November to work out any issues before its official launch. The company, which is backed by $10 million in seed funding by Boston’s Rose Park Advisors, has other potential Boston-area locations on the horizon but nothing yet ready to make public.

“We’re working hard to disrupt a 100-year-old grocery model,” McQuade said in describing the deliberate pace the company’s taken.

Addie’s emphasizes moving fast and being efficient, and both are backed by technology.

Orders that take place exclusively online give the company an instant sense of what it has in stock — as well as what customers are searching for that it may have run out of. The inside of the store, freed from having to be made customer-accessible, is designed to make it easiest for Addie’s workers who scan barcodes to quickly assemble orders.

“It is incredibly liberating to reimagine what a store looks like when it doesn’t have to be optimized for an in-store shopping experience,” McQuaid said.

Then there’s the energy efficiency: McQuade said the store uses a quarter less energy than a typical grocery store because it doesn’t have to cool, say, a dairy display while running heat immediately next to the display to keep customers comfortable. Instead, walk-in coolers and freezers keep refrigerated items enclosed together.

At a time when the retail industry is seeking workers in a tight labor market, Addie’s is also working to be appealing to prospective employees. It pays workers $20 an hour, and $27 an hour for supervisors.

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