Online grocery brand Picnic is on a mission to transform the way people buy food. The idea is simple: customers use an app to order their goods and choose a delivery time. After they have ordered, the items are packed by a ‘shopper’ in one of Picnic’s distribution centres, then delivered by a ‘runner’ at the designated time. Because Picnic doesn’t have stores, the company is able to deliver fresher and cheaper products than traditional supermarkets. The approach has been well-received: since launching in a single Dutch town in 2015, Picnic has expanded to serve over 60 cities across the Netherlands, France and Germany, and every day more new customers join.

Location, location, location

Ensuring speed and efficiency in how the groceries are delivered to customers is central to Picnic’s business model. Using a connected fleet of small milkman style vans, the ‘runners’ are able to navigate congested city streets and park neatly next to each customer’s house. The vehicles are also better adapted to the urban environment as they are fully electric creating less pollution and noise. This choice of small vehicles designed to only travel small distances impacts the company’s property strategy. The distribution hubs from where the vans set off need to be situated almost within the areas they deliver to. They also need to have EV charging stations, chilled storage sections and plenty of space for easy loading.

Scaling across Europe

Mileway first began working with Picnic in the Netherlands, helping the business secure a much needed last mile distribution hub in Amersfoort. The partnership has since grown, and Mileway has provided Picnic with further last mile distribution hubs in Lille, Dusseldorf and Paris, as well as a large 20,000 sqm site in Bremen Germany from which Picnic can service both the city and other nearby distribution hubs in the country. The Bremen property, which Mileway built to spec for Picnic, includes sustainable design features such as electric vehicle charging stations and rooftop photovoltaic solar panels.