COVID-19 Inspires Hyper-Mobile Retail Concept: Grocery Neighbour Might Be the Best Neighbour You’ve Ever Had

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The truck-turned-farmers-market offers fresh local produce, quality grass-fed, organic meat, and freshly baked goodies powered by Grab & Go technology

In case you haven’t noticed (although we imagine you have), the world around us is rapidly changing. And while we are hardly strangers to the concept of innovation, the coronavirus pandemic has, undoubtedly, placed many of the industries and experiences we know and love on a path to accelerated evolution. Despite the many hardships associated with the social and economic climate we now face, one thing is for certain – countless businesses (both big and small) are not only open to embracing change – they are leading the way.

Frank Sinopoli, the man behind ‘Grocery Neighbour’, is certainly no exception. Noting that mobile is the way of the future, Sinopoli recognized the need for a new way to shop – not only for items such as clothing and home goods but for groceries as well. His passion for entrepreneurship, combined with the dramatic change ushered in by COVID-19, provides consumers with a delightfully novel and hyper-mobile grocery concept. Think: all the appeal of a local farmer’s market but, even better, the farmer’s market comes right to your door. Grocery Neighbour, quite literally, delivers the whole store at your convenience. No check-out lines, top quality products from local farmers and butchers, and even a ‘secret recipe’ program. Need we say more?

According to Sinopoli, COVID-19 was, in fact, the primary inspiration behind Grocery Neighbour. “Dramatic change always invites opportunity,” he explains. “When COVID-19 hit in Italy, and I realized what my family there was going through, it was evident that the situation was escalating and change was in store.”

Despite reaching out to a number of groups to get together and brainstorm ideas that could proactively mitigate the emerging demands of a global pandemic, nothing materialized. “I was adamant that I would come up with something great. So, I locked myself up and ran through an exercise I do to brainstorm ideas, and, fortunately, I arrived at the concept of Grocery Neighbour.”

As you might have gathered, Sinopoli is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Instead, entrepreneurship seems to be in his blood. To get the creative juices flowing (even during truly unprecedented times), he reveals that he covers his walls in giant post-it notes. Each note outlining aspects of a business model he is considering. “With Grocery Neighbour, I sensed that I was off to the races immediately. I just knew it was a solution we needed, for so many reasons.”

Here’s how it works. Grocery Neighbour dedicates a mobile store to select neighbourhoods so they can visit a few times a week. Shoppers will receive notifications when the store is on their street or live track one near them. The truck-turned-farmers-market offers up a selection of hand-picked, fresh local produce, quality grass-fed, organic meat, and freshly baked (definitely drool-worthy) baked goods. When shopping, customers can utilize Grocery Neighbour’s Grab & Go technology, which allows them to check out (hands-free) with their phone. It really is that simple.

You might be wondering, though, what differentiates Sinopoli’s latest venture from a standard grocery delivery service, or the food truck industry?

“I genuinely believe people will prefer this service and shopping format because there are no minimum purchase requirements,” notes Sinopoli. “Customers get to see and feel the food and personally select what they want, without any compromise to price and quality. Not only that, but you aren’t waiting for delivery. And, of course, it allows people the opportunity to get out without the risk of mingling in large groups. This, I think, makes it a fun shopping experience for people.”

COVID-19 has impacted businesses around the globe, and start-ups appear to be especially vulnerable during this time. But, as Sinopoli is quick to point out, necessity is the mother of invention. “COVID-19 gave birth to our concept”, he says. “The grocery stores have become a vocalized pain point for consumers as they are stuck waiting in long lines, and in close proximity to large groups. Plus, we have to consider the discomfort of wearing masks for an extended period while shopping, as well as the fear of accidentally contracting the virus. This, along with our quality promise, makes people excited about our service.”

Grocery Neighbour arrives on the heels of a widespread shift to mobile experiences, a transition that had already begun to gain momentum before the pandemic. Now, however, the demand for mobile, hands-free, and hyper-convenient solutions has reached a fever pitch, one fueled by responsive action in equal measure to shifting consumer preference.

Frank explains this trend further, noting that time will always be the most precious thing we have. “Our stores come to you. Our technology manages your time to ensure you’re notified at precisely the right time to anticipate our arrival. Not only that but you line-up digitally, meaning you never have to stand around waiting. Customers can go about their day without any unnecessary interruptions, and we will notify them when it’s time to shop.”

So far, the response has been pretty incredible. According to Sinopoli, one article started it all, and the company hasn’t had to invest in any marketing. “As soon as we launched, we received millions of emails with inquiries and postal code requests, as well as franchise requests from all around the world,” he shares. “It’s been incredible, and we’re very lucky to be riding this wave of excitement.”

As for pandemic-era protocols, Sinpoli assures us that Grocery Neighbour has it covered. The truck offers a 53-foot shopping lane with state of the art technology, touchless check-out, and no crowding. “Our stores don’t just enforce these measures,” he notes. “They were built precisely for them.” 

When asked how he decides what products to carry in each mobile market, Sinopoli explains his approach to neighbourhood personalization. “It takes a few things. First: data. Second: set routes. And three? More data. Because our stores are dedicated to neighbourhoods, we can learn about the areas/demographics we serve based on consumer behavior and data. Our customers are members of our neighbourhood communities, and we get to know each other just as any neighbour would. If the neighbourhood wants something, we want to have it there for them”.

Sinpoloi thinks Grocery Neighbour will revolutionize the way people get their groceries, and, honestly, we think he’s right.

Frank, welcome to the neighbourhood (of innovation).

At the heart of every successful business is a brand that understands consumer preferences, trends, and pain points.  

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