HEB México:the path to 3x growth in online sales

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The challenge

In search of the perfect ally to promote omnichannel in the Mexican market.

In 1997, the Texan giant, HEB, began operating as a convenience store in Mexico, rapidly gaining market share and consumer loyalty. Today, 23 years after its arrival in the country, it has 65 branches throughout 7 Mexican states, with its HEB and Tienda del Ahorro formats, where it employs more than 13,500 people.

Since its inception, HEB has been characterized by its innovative approach, especially highlighting the digital transformation. In 2013 they ventured into the world of e-commerce, developing their own channel www.heb.com.mx, even though the trend for online supermarkets in the region was in its infancy. Year after year their operations evolved and grew, including a more robust e-commerce and their own crowdsourcing network for dispatches and fullfilment, both from the store and from the warehouse. Additionally, with internal efforts, different digital tools were developed to try to automate their processes and increase productivity.

After 6 years of continuous technology development and investment, HEB had failed to conquer the digital consumer experience. They needed to offer direct communication channels, traceability of the operation and, in general, a memorable livecommerce experience. Additionally, scaling the operation was becoming unmanageable without a comprehensive and robust technological tool that synchronized all processes. If they wanted to meet their ambitious digital experience and expansion goals, they needed the ideal partner to do so.

“After years of resistance and scepticism when approaching a supplier with our mission to achieve 30-minute turnaround, we thought it was really going to be an impossible task. Three months after we started working with Instaleap we had not only achieved that goal, we had far surpassed it.”

The solution

A fast track of technological development of more than 3 years in just weeks.

After months of evaluating different alternatives in the market, heb.com.mx found in Instaleap the ally that was going to guarantee scalability and, more importantly, the best consumer experience. Although working with Instaleap meant putting aside years of internal development and an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the decision allowed for a fast track in technological development that, in-house, could take at least 3 years. The implementation of the logistics platform took place in February 2020, just before the global pandemic that boosted e-commerce penetration by 387% in Latin America. Thanks to this implementation, HEB was able to support even greater demand growth than it was ambitiously forecasting, 3x in just a few months.

“With Instaleap we save time. We understood that developing a similar technology on our own could mean at least 3 years of work and investment. While becoming an Instaleap partner meant putting aside previous investments we had made in technology, it was a fast track in digital development. Fortunately, we implemented the platform before the pandemic started, without its benefits we would not have been able to face the challenges it brought with it. ” – Edwin Cardenas, Omnichannel Director

Supporting 3x Growth in Demand: The Path to Scalability

Instaleap proporciona a sus clientes las herramientas necesarias para soportar una operación, que está constantemente escalando, a través de herramientas de sincronización, manejo dinámico de recursos, y control de la operación centralizada.

Contamos con algoritmos de asignación que integran todos los procesos desde que se crea una orden y encuentra la combinación óptima de recursos, en tiempo y costo, para despachar un pedido. Estos algoritmos funcionan como un motor de decisión y como base variables logísticas, estacionales y operacionales que se adaptan constantemente, ajustando su lógica a los cambios de tendencias globales.

De esta manera, heb.com.mx ha podido escalar su operación sin comprometer su rentabilidad. 

Nuestra plataforma permite una administración dinámica de los recursos, que se ajusta a la disponibilidad real de los mismos. Esta, ha permitido a heb.com.mx hacer manejo de su propia red de crowdsourcing para despachos de pedidos express. Para la asignación, se contemplan únicamente aquellos recursos que se reportan como disponibles. Esta red ha brindado capacidad de respuesta cuando hay picos en la demanda sin la necesidad de incurrir en costos fijos de despachadores que pudieran afectar la rentabilidad en la operación.

Finalmente, la torre de control fue desarrollada para soportar la expansión acelerada de la operación tanto en volumen de órdenes como en puntos de despacho dentro de la configuración logística. Esta, permite monitorear de manera centralizada la operación en toda la red logística. Todo lo anterior, en conjunto, ha contribuido a que heb.com.mx soporte su crecimiento acelerado sin comprometer la rentabilidad ni la promesa de valor a los clientes.

Exceeding the expectations of the end customer

For the end customer, having a livecommerce experience has become essential. With the Instaleap platform, heb.com.mx has been able to offer its clients the highest standards of service. With our real-time chats, customers have direct contact with all the resources in charge of their order: pickers, dispatchers and support. In this way, heb.com.mx can respond to any of your concerns and resolve problems proactively. Our solutions focus on giving the client the greatest possible visibility, showing in real time all the progress of the order, from which products have already been selected during picking, to the exact location of dispatchers in delivery. Thus ensuring that customers enjoy a fully live experience.

For heb.com.mx it was vital to be able to offer a better shopping experience in its home delivery and Pick & Go models. With Instaleap, this is possible since it offers operational models such as express deliveries, in less than an hour, scheduled deliveries, adjusted to the customer’s preferences, and clic & collect, so that the customer can collect their order in store. All these options have strengthened the value offer, radically improving the consumer experience.

Thanks to Instaleap’s proprietary capacity control algorithms, heb.com.mx can guarantee that the supply of delivery schedules is fully aligned with the actual capacity of resources. In this way, it has been possible to guarantee a consistent fulfillment of the delivery promise, which has been reflected in a very favorable perception of the customer service offered.

The Instaleap platform supports different operating models. Among these is the full service model, in which the same resource is responsible for the picking and delivery process. This model can be integrated with 3PL companies that offer a home delivery crowdsourcing service, thanks to our API-first, flexible and modular architecture. This guarantees a robust fleet offering to respond to peaks in demand and facilitate the opening of new areas, without having to deal with the overhead of fixed resources. 

For Oxxo, Instaleap’s flexibility in its integration with 3PL companies has been key to guaranteeing delivery times of less than 30 minutes in a cost-effective manner. The seamlessness of the operation offered by our platform has ensured that the operation flows efficiently and interconnectedly without the end customer noticing the use of two different providers. 

More than a supplier, an extension of the team

Instaleap is much more than a provider. The development of technology in our team is based on a collaborative methodology of immersion with the client. We are known for being an extension of the internal team. With HEB we have worked hand in hand, applying the principle of iterative learning cycles together, to constantly improve processes based on the opportunities identified in the real operation. We also carry out workshops focused on identifying specific needs and generating hypotheses based on results. We incorporate, in our day-to-day operations, consultancies to always promote best practices and drive better results from the expertise of years specializing in last-mile logistics for supermarkets.

“One of the most important points within Instaleap’s added value is that they share as a team, beyond the tool, the best practices that they have learned throughout their years of operation. They are like consultants who become an extension of our team and provide us with relevant insights for decision-making and operational adjustments. ”- Edwin Cardenas, Omnichannel Director

“We have managed to build a highly efficient logistics operation by attacking the critical points that prevented us from meeting the delivery times we were looking for. Today we can say that we are the fastest player in the market”.


Omnichannel as a response to the future of supermarkets.

HEB started with the implementation of the Instaleap logistics platform at the end of 2019. Since then the results in both scalability and optimization have been outstanding. On the one hand, the efforts to synchronize the different processes and the optimization of times and resources have resulted in a 30% decrease in last-mile costs. Meanwhile, leveraging our logistics platform has driven and enabled HEB to support 3x growth in orders delivered. Currently, more than 2000 orders are handled per day and this is just the beginning of an ambitious expansion path.

But the journey does not end here. Together with Oxxo, we continue to identify new challenges to conquer with the ambition and innovation that has characterised our partnership from the start. In an industry that does not stand still, continually reinventing ourselves is key, which is why in the future we expect expansions, both geographically and in terms of grey shops, and the exploration of different operating models and new concepts that will ensure competitiveness for the future.