In April 2020, Countdown will introduce an eStore also known as a ‘dark stores’ that will service the growing demand for online shopping. The stores will look just like a regular supermarket, with shelves of products, meat, bread and fruit and vegetables, however, the store will have no customers. A team of 165 personal shoppers will be present at the eStore to complete online orders for ten of Countdown's busiest online central stores.

The Penrose store has partnered up with Takeoff Technologies to introduce partially automated micro fulfilment capabilities. This means the personal shoppers can easily access the products without having to walk up and down busy store aisles.

“At Countdown, we’ve seen a massive demand for our online shopping services over the last few years. In the last quarter alone we’ve had 38 percent growth,” said Countdown’s general manager digital, Sally Copland. “The new eStore will enable us to improve our customer experience for online shoppers as well as free-up space in-store and improve the experience for our team.”

Dark stores will make the shopping experience quicker and more convenient for customers.

“We see the future of grocery shopping as a mix of services that are fundamentally focused on meeting our customers’ needs and expectations, and importantly, their lifestyle,” Copland added.

Countdown’s Penrose eStore will employ 165 personal shoppers across full-time and part-time roles. The company will evaluate how efficiently the system works before deciding on a further roll-out.