(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    NOBODY, May 17th, 2004 @ 6:50am

    No Subject Given

    I liked webvan.
    Wouldn't shop with anyone else.
    I would shop with them or someone like them again.
    It's an idea that makes a lot of sense in cities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Paul M Johnson, May 17th, 2004 @ 7:38am

    I don't need my groceries delivered but....

    I'd love to place my order online and when I show up at the market my order is ready to be paid for an picked up. I think this would help more people than a delivery service which relies on you being home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mark, May 17th, 2004 @ 8:17am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Tim, May 17th, 2004 @ 9:31am

    Grocery Gateway Still Operating

    Grocery Gateway was the operator up here during all that hayday activity with online grocers. They still exist as they took things slow to start with and expanded like a real business (not like a crazy out of control Internet business).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2004 @ 1:32pm

    Wouldn't THIS be cool ?

    Does anyone know if any of these internet grocery stores will be giving green stamps like in the good 'ole days ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    thecaptain, May 18th, 2004 @ 5:21am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Tony, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 7:48pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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