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.