Deli on your doorstep and fresh baked goods to go: grocery delivery for the stay-at-home era

The Czech Republic’s largest online grocery store is keeping its customers and front-line workers well-fed during the second wave

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 02.11.2020 10:06 (updated on 03.11.2020)

The spring pandemic brought a dramatic shift from in-person to online shopping, one that hasn’t lost momentum as people return to sheltering at home amid the second wave.

Rohlík the Czech Republic’s largest online grocer said demand for its services have increased exponentially since the first wave, with no sign of the trend slowing down for the foreseeable future. 

Like many other online retailers, it’s now bracing for the second wave by broadening the scope of its services -- and introducing some new products for people who miss regular trips to the farmer’s market, deli counter, or even their favorite restaurant.

“The spring wave ‘doubled’ us,” said Zdeňka Svoboda, a spokesperson for Rohlík of how the measures impacted the company’s business model, currently being scaled up to meet a fresh wave of demand.

Locally made pate and fresh bread from Rohlík
Locally made pate and fresh bread from Rohlík

“We are now able to serve a greater number of customers and have recently accelerated the opening of a new warehouse in Horní Počernice,” said Svoboda. The company also plans to move its Brno warehouse to a bigger space, which it hopes will enable it to grow its customer base by 50 percent.

In an effort to serve more customers, more efficiently the retailer has made a number of necessary changes to help reduce wait time as well as ensure that enough food is available for everyone who needs it. 

“Strengthening our capacities was really necessary because the number of people who need grocery delivery has grown now more than ever,” said Pavlík adding that seniors and families with children at home as well as more doctors and hospital staff rely on their service.

grocery delivery
Rohlík is expanding its services in the face of the second wave / photo Rohlík.cz

In an effort to help front-line workers the company has also launched a Rohlík Point for hospitals -- which let medical staffers purchase groceries from an indoor dispenser that stores both dry and refrigerated goods. 

The company has also given free premium subscriptions to 1,000 medical workers in the hospitals hit hardest by the current pandemic. It plans to give 1,000 more. Several other charitable activities include Rohlik vouchers for single moms, deliveries to childrens’ and senior homes, and the option for customers to donate credits earned from a delayed delivery, etc. to seniors.

While many of these updates are designed for a better shopping experience, others simply deliver small pleasures that count for a lot during difficult times. 

During the last wave, Rohlík launched Bistro, a ready-made meal service in association with restaurants in its Prague and Brno delivery areas. The company buys a certain number of meals from each restaurant which represents what Svoboda calls a “safe” demand. 

“It is then up to us to sell the meals or not. The restaurant gets paid anyway,” she said.

The newly launched Rohlík deli option offers quality meats and cheeses at a price comparable or even lower than the current offer on the market. (A sampling of prices shows high-quality ham on Rohlík costs about 27 crowns per 100 grams, bacon costs 17 crowns and ten blanket slices of Dutch Edam 37 crowns.)

The sliced cheeses and cold cuts -- currently customers can order about thirty types of ham and a dozen cheeses -- are anticipated to draw orders of up to 3,000 packages per day and are currently for customers throughout most of Bohemia.

The newly launched Rohlík deli option
The newly launched Rohlík deli option

The recyclable packaging that is easily separated from the film segues into another area in which the company is making some important changes: sustainability policies.

Rohlík's “Save the Food” section has existed for several years lets customers shop for soon-be-expired items, while those who embrace a waste-free lifestyle can purchase dairy, drugstore products, pet food, and more in returnable packaging which customers can be return to the delivery driver for credits on their account.

Its “Without compromise” line promises food -- fresh bread, meats, and produce -- from local producers at a time when farmers and farmers markets are faced with extraordinary challenges.

The company anticipates the current boom in business to last through the holidays and possibly beyond. 

“Three months ago, no one could have imagined that the pandemic would move where it is now. Nobody knows what will happen in a month or two,” said Svoboda.

“We anticipate that demand will continue to grow, in addition to Christmas, a period of increased shopping. We are prepared for it.”

This article was written in cooperation with Rohlík. Read more about our partner content policies here.