In the crowded field of e-commerce, one company is looking back, way back, for inspiration to stand out and win over consumers. The milkman, according to Picnic CEO Joris Beckers, is the perfect model for today’s grocery delivery to reduce food waste, limit carbon-emitting excess delivery trips — and generate a sense of community among customers.

“The concept of a scheduled service was very interesting to us,” Beckers said at Signal 2021. “So we set that up because it’s a much more efficient way of getting delivery to everyone on the same street all at the same time, with the same kind of service.”

Picnic is an online grocery “store” with no physical location, just fulfillment centers and  refrigerated (electric vehicle) vans that make deliveries to neighborhoods at set times. An algorithm optimizes delivery routes, and customers meet the van when it arrives in their neighborhood. Picnic’s “runners” often get out of the van and interact with customers, sometimes offering popsicles to children.

Learn more about Picnic’s plan from Beckers’ appearance at Signal 2021: