Customer stories

Adyen and Picnic: Delivering the best shopping experience

Find out how online supermarket Picnic uses payments technology to offer a fresh experience to its hungry user base

October 15, 2021
 ·  6 minutes
Picnic supermarket van and employees outside The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

If you’ve ever visited the Netherlands, you’ll know that the supermarkets are some of the world’s best. Wide variety, locally grown produce, and quantities of candy that would make Willy Wonka blush. But the fact remains, busy supermarkets, no matter how well designed, can be stressful, a chore, and an inconvenience, especially during socially distanced times.

Enter Picnic: a Dutch, online app-based supermarket that delivers exclusively to your door.

Picnic’s ethos is that while shopping can be an acceptable way to spend your time, there are nicer things to do, like walk your dog, or watch the latest Korean TV series.

The Picnic team noticed that in recent years, supermarket shopping has become less convenient. Shoppers have to do more and more: They fill their cart, pick out the most beautiful vegetables with the longest expiry date. They wait in snaking queues, self-scan their goods, weigh their fruit, they even make sure there isn’t an incorrect item in the bagging area. First-world problems, sure, but when life gives you lemons, why not get them delivered?

In this article, we’ll fill our basket with questions for Picnic’s CEO, Michiel Müller, and Product Owner for Payments, Jelmer Borst, to tell their growth story and share how we’ve helped them with payments.

Aisle 1: Picnic’s growth journey

What was the motivation behind starting Picnic?

Michiel:When we started Picnic back in 2015, online grocery delivery was virtually non-existent and only accounted for 1% of the market. At the time, it was a premium model with high costs. We drew a blank canvas and quickly concluded that more people would buy groceries online if they were cheaper and delivery was free.

We had just four delivery cars. There are now more than 1000 cars driving around in about 120 Dutch towns, with hundreds of thousands of customers and a monthly expansion to new cities.

What were some of the most significant developments?

Michiel:I would have to say the series of firsts we experienced in the early days of the business. Our first customer, the first iteration of our app, the first software implemented for the app, through to our first vehicle.

Winning theTech5 prize in 2019from Adyen and TNW was also a big moment for us.

Aisle 2: Why code and cornflakes aren’t mutually exclusive

What is Picnic’s approach to technology?

Michiel:Tech is ingrained in everything we do. We have over 150 developers in Amsterdam and build everything ourselves. From the app, our robotized fulfillment center, to our payment flow. This is why when it came to the payments side, we wanted to work with a partner, not just a supplier. Adyen has become that partner.

I think what’s important in a technology partner is that they really understand the business side of things and that their technology is there to serve the customer. Remember, it’s customer convenience that counts, and not the technology itself.

"Adyen, is of course, at the forefront of technology, like we are at Picnic. We build our own software, Adyen does the same, and the granular level that they have really enables us to bring the best convenience and payment experience to our customers."

Michiel MüllerCEO

Can you tell us more about some of the innovations you’ve made?

Jelmer:We can talk specifically to one in payments. Credit cards aren’t really common in the Netherlands, and Dutch debit cards don’t have visible 16-digit PANs to use online. This brings a few problems: shoppers have to pay in some ‘less-than-seamless’ ways. One such example is with online banking. Shoppers are redirected away from the Picnic environment, they’re prompted for login details, then brought back to our website. The tech comes from a time when online payments were new, and people were accustomed to wire transfers. If you designed a new payment method from the ground up today, it would work differently.

This led us to get in touch with the Adyen team, MasterCard, and Rabobank, to design a payment method from the ground upfor the maestro debit card.

In what ways has Adyen been able to help with payments?

Jelmer:We’ve already been active for 5 years, but in that time, we never processed cards, which for many companies is pretty odd. Then suddenly, you’re expanding into a new country with new payment methods, and everything needs to work from day 1. You start to question everything: How does PCI work? How does the storage of these card details work? Because you’re so used to tweaking iDEAL or direct debit, which is much simpler to deal with. Cards have many different routes: You can do merchant-initiated transactions (MITs), 3DS may or may not pop up - there are many aspects. So we’re constantly bombarding your team with questions and always getting an answer. This helps us a lot.

Accepting Dutch debit cards online without PAN was also a big reason we started working with Adyen. As we process more volume, we see differences in uptime, new retry strategies, as well as the scope Adyen works with, and the extra mile you go. All-in-all, I think the key for us was that with Adyen, we can think about innovation together.

Picnic employee delivering groceries.

When you switched to Adyen, what were some of the measurable improvements you saw?

Jelmer:On one aspect, we didn’t see too much, which is a very good sign because that means we are not degrading any experience. Instead, we see very high uptime and improved experience for our customers and our team.

We see uptime combined with success rates as the most important thing for us as a supermarket.

How has working with us made things better for your team and customers?

Michiel:Of course, our favorite feature in the Adyen platform is the payment method we created to help our customers use their Maestro debit cards online.

From the Picnic app, shoppers can configure their payment cards. After this enrollment step, the card can be used as a card-on-file with the same functionalities as a credit card (e.g., increase/decrease authorizations, refund). This lets customers follow the transaction in detail, and in turn, they only get one line on their bank statement, summing up all the transaction details.

Aisle 3: Delivering on sustainability

Finally, CO2 emissions and food waste are two of Western Europe’s biggest challenges. What is Picnic doing to counter this?

Michiel: We’re a young company, and today, any new company has to have sustainability at its heart. At Picnic, we’re no different; the environment is extremely important to us. We deliver groceries in environmentally-friendly electric cars; they’re quiet and keep CO2 emissions to a minimum. We drive through the streets based on smart routes, meaning we can take groceries for an entire neighborhood on one trip, saving extra journeys. Having groceries delivered also cuts out our customers’ need to drive to the supermarket.

Since day one, we’ve worked hard to cut out food waste. We don’t have to store things like bread, fruit, and vegetables in the supermarket. Instead, we order from our suppliers what our customers have ordered from the app. Take fresh bread as an example; when the Picnic checkout closes at 10 p.m. the night before, our baker Klaas Fuite bakes the loaves of bread our customers have ordered for the following day. That way, we never have to throw anything away.

Hungry for more?

Want to learn how more of the world's largest, most innovative companies tackle payments? We publish new case studies regularly. See below some of our recent articles with other companies working in the food and beverage industry, or check out more over on our blog.

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