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    Selecting the Best Grocery Delivery Service

    Many capabilities seem similar

    By John Karolefski

    Two recent news stories got me thinking about the choices grocers face when deciding to offer a grocery-ordering and delivery service to their shoppers.

    Instacart is partnering with PlateJoy, a personalized nutrition service. They aim to offer same-day delivery of groceries tailored to a customer’s health and taste preferences. Meanwhile, the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) has released a guide to help grocers understand the wide variety of e-commerce solutions available today and how to make intelligent investments in them.

    The first story is especially interesting because it shows how Instacart is maturing by offering a specialized service to its customers. With a few clicks, consumers can get food delivered that has been customized by a personal nutritionist. PlateJoy has developed technology that converts a person’s nutritional profile into personalized weekly menus. The company uses more than 50 data points covering a consumer’s health goals and food preferences to determine exactly what they should eat, along with appropriate recipes and shopping lists. Consumers can order custom groceries seven days a week via Instacart’s one-hour delivery service.

    “The PlateJoy and Instacart integration is the equivalent of your fairy godmother and your personal nutritionist grocery shopping for you every week, magically placing the right things in your fridge, and sending recipes and nutritional support to your phone,” said Christina Bognet, CEO and founder of  Cambridge, Mass.-based PlateJoy.

    The partnership further embellishes the reputation of perhaps the fastest-growing and most popular grocery delivery service in the country. Indeed, San Francisco-based Instacart is available in six cities across the Unied Statest and partners with more than 60 grocery retailers, including chains such as Whole Foods Market and Costco, as well as smaller operators such as Fairway Market, Bi-Rite, and Plum Market. People can order their groceries online, and Instacart connects them to personal shoppers, who hand-pick items at customers’ favorite local stores and deliver the groceries straight to their doors in a little as one hour.  

    That sounds so great that grocers should sign up right away, right? Maybe. That’s where the CART buying guide comes into play. "The eCommerce Buying Guide for Supermarket Retailers" contains a comprehensive scorecard of key features, functions and capabilities of each e-commerce solution. It recommends the following 10 things grocers need to consider when evaluating solutions:

    • Decide how to brand the new service 
    • Look for a service dedicated to online grocery shopping
    • Look for track record of efficient order fulfillment
    • Evaluate payment processing options
    • Evaluate delivery options
    • Look for a solution provider that can offer accurate product images, descriptions and prices
    • Make sure data will be secure
    • Look for solutions that provide a management or administrative portal
    • Determine whether the solution provider makes available end-customer technical support
    • Determine whether the company is experienced or new to grocery e-commerce.

    Gary Hawkins, Founder and CEO of CART, said retailers need to sort through an overwhelming and expanding variety of solutions, capabilities and vendors all promising similar results. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of all providers can make selecting the right solution easier. CART looks at new e-commerce solutions on a weekly basis and has worked with retailers on a variety of deployments.

    Such a buying guide makes a lot of sense.

    By John Karolefski
    • About John Karolefski John Karolefski is a veteran business journalist with 25 years of experience covering CPG, retail and technology. Over the years, he has edited several trade publications and is the co-author of three books: "TARGET 2000: the Rising Tide of TechnoMarketing," "All about Sampling and Demonstrations," and "Consumer-Centric Category Management." He has appeared on CNN, CBS Radio and BBC Radio to discuss marketing issues. He can be reached at [email protected]

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