UAE’s Lulu and Geant take battle for grocery customers online

The battle for grocery shoppers is about to intensify as two of the UAE’s biggest hypermarket operators, Lulu and Geant, introduce new online offerings.

Lulu has invested US$5 million ahead of the August relaunch of its website and the release of a new mobile app to provide a click and collect service, alongside home delivery, across all of its branches in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

In September, French retailer Geant will extend its online sales and delivery service to Abu Dhabi, operating from its store in Yas Mall.

The scale of its home delivery network in the capital has still to be decided, Geant said, but Yas Mall’s neighbouring communities, including Khalifa City A and Al Raha Beach, are expected to be in the immediate catchment area.

Geant has offered home delivery in Dubai for the past two years, increasing its fleet of refrigerated delivery vans to 8 vehicles, from 5. It now makes 150 to 200 deliveries daily.

“Online grocery shopping is still a growing phenomenon. Right now online is not challenging the volumes of our physical stores but it is growing,” said Nazia Noor, the supervisor for customer services at Geant. “We have been running home delivery and online sales for two years in Dubai targeting specific communities and areas. We do not just deliver anywhere, and we have a list of the communities we deliver to on our website.”

Geant offers free delivery for purchases above Dh100 and charges Dh10 for orders below Dh100. Both cash on delivery and electronic payments are accepted.

Lulu has run an online store for electronics for the past year. The new website and mobile app will now allow home delivery for food items from any of its 15 stores from Fujairah to Abu Dhabi.

“We realise that is not a mature market with regard to online sales,” said Stuart Davidge, head of ecommerce at Lulu.

“This investment is turning Lulu from a brick and mortar operator to an omni-channel operator that is open to our customers 24 hours a day, delivering produce and allowing collection of products from your closest distribution point.

“We do not see the investment as something that needs to be recouped tomorrow, it is an investment in Lulu’s future and future sales.”

Lulu’s current warehouse capacity can fulfil “most of the online distribution needs so we are ahead of the game in some sense”, said Mr Davidge.

Industry sources said Choithrams will also be rolling out a broader online sales and delivery service soon. It currently offers only a basic home delivery request service on its website but no products or prices are listed online. When contacted by The National, no one from Choithrams was available for comment.

Carrefour and Spinneys did not respond to questions.

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