How to make waiting fun

An unusual solution to an unusual challenge

Ruben Vermijs
Nov 15, 2018 · 4 min read

When you download a grocery app, you expect to order straight away.

Combine this with what you’ve been hearing about the new grocery hype. Everyone is talking about it. And for weeks, there has a been a friendly guy driving a cute electric vehicle and delivering the neighbour’s groceries…

You were curious and thought, ‘Next day delivery and friendly service? I’ll order tomorrow’s groceries with Picnic’.

There’s no physical store to check out. So you picked up your phone, downloaded the app and put in your details. Inside, there was a rising anticipation and excitement about Picnic. You couldn’t wait to check out the app-only store…a supermarket that fits in your pocket! Genius.

But then, just at the point that you were ready to choose tomorrow’s delivery, this pops up:

Shock. Horror. A bubble of excitement has burst. You send an angry WhatsApp message to a friend.

‘Picnic promises customers they never have to wait in line again. But I’ve just been put 2411th in line! Can you believe it?’

Currently, 75,000 people are experiencing this.

Picnic by popular demand

For any startup, having 10,000’s of customers demanding your service is an unusual dilemma. With the excitement surrounding Picnic, it’s easy to grow quickly. But behind the app-only store is a complex logistical operation.

Back in 2015, we delivered 50 orders a day with a tiny fleet of electric Picnic vehicles, ePVs, to a handful of customers. These customers spread their experiences via word of mouth from neighbour to neighbour and Picnic grew beyond our expectations. Now, there’s a fleet of 600 ePVs delivering to 200,000 households.

Keeping customers happy

Our goal is to make customers happy. Maintaining the top-class service that makes Picnic so special is not as easy as downloading an app. We need to plan new routes, build new ePVs, construct distribution centres and scale our operations.

Combine this technical challenge with an ever-growing demand and the outcome is a waiting list.

But waiting in line is disappointing. Although we can’t remove the waiting list, the least we can do is to make waiting more fun and transform it into something good. That’s why we created the Wachtverzachter, or ‘Presents for patience’.

Turn that frown upside down

Let’s go back a bit. You just found out that you’re standing 7367th in line. So maybe you even deleted the Picnic app. You don’t want to wait for online groceries.

Then this arrives in your inbox:

A smile grows across your face. That fluttering of excitement returns. The initial disappointment slowly turns to realisation. ‘Ok…so the longer I wait, the more free stuff I get and… I don’t have to do anything.’

As a new customer, you get rewards while you wait. The gifts are a healthy to sweet selection from our assortment: bananas, coffee, oranges to croissants. The longer in line, the more free products you receive. And to complement this, we keep everyone informed with emails and cheesy Picnic puns.

This way at least the waiting is fun.

So you re-download the app, decide to wait and give Picnic a chance.

Before you know it, you’ve been invited into the app and you can start shopping with Picnic. When you first enter the store, there’s a basket already brimming with items.

The next day, a friendly Runner is waiting outside your door with all of your week’s groceries and you know it was worth the wait.

New customers every week

Every week new ePVs are hitting the street and delivering to new customers. The Wachtverzachter gives us the time time to scale operations and grow smoothly while still providing the best service to every customer.

We know that once you receive your first order, you’ll place another, then another and then become a true Picnic fan.

And this is what we live for, creating one happy customer at a time

Life's a Picnic

Creating the best milkman on Earth.

Ruben Vermijs

Written by

Life is a Picnic

Life's a Picnic

Creating the best milkman on Earth.