We are all familiar with drive-thru, now meet the world’s first sail-thru supermarket. No. Kevin Reynolds’ Waterworld (1995, Universal Pictures) is (thankfully) not here, but a floating supermarket is here anyways. Mind you, though, this sail-thru supermarket is not merely a boat dropped onto the ocean; called Aqua Pod, it is a purpose-designed vessel conceived by Dubai-based Aquatic Architects Design Studio for the MENA region retail juggernaut, Majid Al Futtaim.
Officially launched earlier this month, Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore is billed as the world’s first sail-thru supermarket that aims to serve seafaring customers on small watercraft like yachts, jet skis, as well as customers on three select beaches in Dubai, namely, Kite Beach, Jumeirah Public Beach and Al Sufouh Beach. While customers on a small watercraft can float up to the window counter to buy the items, those on the beach or on larger vessels can call in or use the Aqua Pod app to place the order and have the items delivered to them by a skiff.
Aqua Pod stocks over 300 items ranging from snacks and beverages to personal care products (like sunscreen and whatnot) to over-the-counter pharmaceutical products. The products are, obviously, carefully selected to meet the needs of customers who are chilling out on the high sea and on the beach. I got to say, Aqua Pod is a rather clever and novel retail move. Beyond the obvious intention to coax your money out of your wallet when you are on the waters, Aqua Pod is also a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
As such, Aqua Pod is designed to be eco-friendly, starting with an electric drivetrain powered by rechargeable batteries that will allow the vessel to get out to sea and back (and presumably, supporting all things onboard that require electricity). Interestingly, it is also outfitted with a thing called ‘seabin’ that sucks in any floating debris around the vessel into a holding tank, ready to be disposed in a proper manner once it docks at the shore.
And then there is a water purifier that converts grid water in the vessel’s holding tank into potable water, thus eliminating the need for plastic bottles. To be perfectly honest, I am not quite sure how that’s going to eliminate plastic bottles. Finally, Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore will only provide biodegradable paper straws and bags, and encourage its patrons to dispose waste from their purchases in a responsible and environmentally-friendly manner.
Majid Al Futtaim’s Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore opens six days a week, from 10AM to 6PM. But that is, of course, at the mercy of the weather. But yeah, on good days, you will be able to continue to shop even while you are on water.
Come to think of it, Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore is kind of like Thailand’s floating market, but in on the open waters and dramatically less cluttered. So, it’d be right to claim as “world’s first sail-thru supermarket,” but not quite “world’s fist sail-thru market.” Just saying…
Images: Majid Al Futtaim.