Customers at North Island stores of New Zealand's biggest supermarket chain will be able to order online from later this year and South Island customers in about a year's time.
Chris Quin, the new Foodstuffs North Island chief executive, said this week that the move was a big step forward for the business and its customers.
Foodstuffs is the locally owned co-operative with the New World, Pak 'n Save, Four Square, Liquorland and Gilmours brands.
Rival Countdown has offered online grocery orders for many years, he acknowledged.
But Quin said he expected click-and-collect orders to be a significant market share, whereby customers would order online but collect the goods themselves.
The supermarket chain will use trucks and staff from each store to deliver the goods, rather than contracting the service out, he said.
More than 10 per cent of New Zealand retail sales were now online so he projected big growth.
"New Zealand has a growing population and it's getting harder and harder to buy sites, so you can serve more customers," he said, indicating new supermarket development rates might fall as online picks up.
Foodstuffs North Island trialled online ordering at New World Thorndon and New World Kapiti, he said.
Those trials were highly instructive, Quin said, describing the online move as a major initiative since he joined Foodstuffs from Spark where he worked for more than two decades.
Steve Anderson, Foodstuffs South Island chief executive and managing director for the national Foodstuffs, said a South Island online offering was planned for 2017 or 2018 and an announcement would be made closer to the time. Foodstuffs was not disadvantaged by trailing its rival.
"Countdown has not had a first-mover advantage and they've been going for 16 years. We want to do better than them. What Chris and his team are developing is consumer-led," he said.
New Zealand has a growing population and it's getting harder ... to buy sites.
"Food safety is paramount," he said, describing how chilled food would be delivered in chilled bags.
The launch of petrol offerings 12 years ago had been a big success and was being expanded.
"We'll be launching more petrol stations into Pak 'n Saves," he said.
Quin has been with Foodstuffs since September and he expected tens of thousands of customers would order online.
Major food trends included lifestyle choices, value options, international foods, fresh options, variety and convenience choices, he said.
Many New Zealanders earned less than $20 an hour, he said. Foodstuffs North Island employs about 22,000 people and had a big effect on lives both as an employer and in terms of options it offered customers, he said.
Quin and Anderson were at the food expo in Auckland where more than 300 exhibitors were showing items to nearly 4000 supermarket owners.
A Foodstuffs spokeswoman said all the food left over from the expo at the ASB Showgrounds was being donated to charity.
"Kiwi Harvest is collecting the 14 pallets from the expo. They will then arrange and send out to a variety of organisations. All other items which are not edible will be donated to Women's Refuge."