The Return Of Internet Grocery Stores

from the not-this-story-again dept

The whole internet grocery phenomenon has come and gone in waves. In the early days there was Peapod, which was considered a dismal failure. Just as people were writing off the whole concept, along came Louis Borders and his idea for Webvan. When Webvan first came along we pointed out that every other internet grocery store had failed, but Borders thought he would do something different. He didn’t. He spent an awful lot of money, but it took only about two years for Webvan to fail as well. A couple years ago, however, everyone started talking about how online groceries were making a comeback with folks like FreshDirect learning from the mistakes of others. It still seemed like the FreshDirect situation (being in Manhattan, mainly) was a special circumstance, but (once again) it looks like online groceries are getting attention – and they’re names you might be familiar with: Peapod (under new management) is back at it, as are the huge grocery store chains Safeway and Albertsons. Still, people are skeptical – and not every effort is working out. Whole Foods recently shut down their own online grocery program as did Florida chain Publix – claiming not many people were using it. It appears online grocery shopping may be very dependent on location, rather than being a broadly applicable concept. I know some people are thrilled with the idea, and some companies have made it work, but with margins so tight in the grocery business, it looks like it needs to be done very carefully.

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Comments on “The Return Of Internet Grocery Stores”

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Mark (user link) says:

Webvan et al.

I really liked the idea of online grocery shopping back in its heyday, but there was always something about the way the businesses operated that stopped me from doing business with them. First, I wasn’t going to pay a monthly fee — hence no Peapod. Second, I wasn’t home during business hours, so I wanted an operation that would deliver on the weekends, and that eliminated about everyone else. The earlier operations never seemed to realize that they needed to accommodate their customers, not the other way around, which I think was part of their struggle to expand their market.

I could still become a customer, if it’s cost-effective and suits my schedule as someone with a real job. If the new services are as restrictive as the old, I’ll continue to take a pass.

thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

Our local grocery store (one of) hasn’t stopped doing this. They have a website, you have a stored profile and you can set up weekly lists, see your last few orders and all.

They deliver days, nights and weekends and the fee is 5$ plus tip (which is what it cost us to cab it back from there with loaded groceries).

Its not a bad service, but it does have glitches and annoyances.

1) Anything fresh, they don’t pick the best stuff…Any veggies/fruits we ordered I got the impression it was the stuff that wasn’t selling in the store.
2) if they don’t have a product you order, they either leave it out or subsitute with another (sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive) but its never consistent and the option to choose which method you want on the site is not there.

The only reason we really stopped ordering that way is because another grocery store opened closer AND much cheaper (20-30$ a week cheaper) so it wasn’t worth it anymore.

Tony says:

Why are the internet Grocer's only focusing on big

Why are the internet Grocer’s only focusing on big cities. I myself love the idea of being able to do my food shopping online. It cuts down on the time it takes to fight the crowds just to get a loaf of bread and some milk. If these investors formed a system where the can get local drivers to do the home deliveries I’m certain it’ll pick up. I buy everything online I prefer it. I really would like to get my food online if there was someone out there inteligent enough to be able to open the doors to more cities then just NYC or Miami.

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