Wholesalers Woo Independent Grocers with On-Demand eCommerce Solutions 

DoorDash, Delivery

As wholesalers compete to win the loyalty of independent grocers, category leaders look to stand out by offering additional ways to meet these grocers’ day-to-day needs. SpartanNash, for instance, offers graphic design services, coupon redemption capabilities, and tools to support in-store pharmacies, among others, while C&S Wholesale Grocers offers ecommerce capabilities for curbside pickup, delivery or third-party delivery, among other services. 

This week, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) upped the ante. On Thursday (Oct. 14), the company became the first wholesaler to partner with DoorDash, integrating the service into its existing suite of eCommerce solutions. Through the partnership, independent grocers can offer grocery delivery through the food ordering and delivery platform and can appear on the DoorDash marketplace.  

“We know demand for this functionality continues to be very strong, and to remain competitive retailers need solutions that offer simple installation and avoid extra labor costs,” Matt Whitney, UNFI’s chief strategy and innovation officer, said in a statement. “As the leading last-mile logistics company, DoorDash already has the extensive logistics network in place for grocers to leverage.” 

The Context 

The partnership comes at a time when DoorDash is working to build out its grocery presence quicker than competitors.  

“We’re super early in terms of the opportunity not just in food but also when you add in these other categories that we have now recently entered into, such as convenience, grocery, pet food, alcohol and others,” CFO Prabir Adarkar told analysts on a quarterly earnings call in August. “So, we are a tiny, tiny fraction of the potential of these categories. And that’s why we’re investing.”   

See also: DoorDash Sees Record Orders Eaten Up By Rising Costs  

The move to secure independent grocers in partnership with UNFI could be key for the delivery service, given how crowded the space is becoming. DoorDash must compete for grocers and for grocery shoppers not only with category leader Instacart, but also with rival food ordering services Grubhub and Uber Eats. Grubhub parent Just Eat Takeaway.com has been rolling out grocery delivery across the markets in which it operates; over the summer, Uber Eats doubled its grocery availability.  

Read more: Uber Eats Devours Ride-Share Business As Company Doubles Up On Groceries  

By the Numbers 

Before the pandemic, the percentage of the total grocery market that came from online sales was low single digits, a 2020 Mercatus study found that the e-grocery market broke into the double digits last year, making up a significant portion of all sales.  

PYMNTS’ research from the report “The Bring-It-to-Me Economy,” created in collaboration with Carat from Fiserv, finds that 27% of consumers are ordering groceries online to be delivered to their homes somewhat or much more often than before the start of the pandemic. Additionally, 46% of consumers are buying more groceries online overall than before March 2020. 

More details: Bring-It-To-Me Economy Ascends As Consumers Embrace Home-Centric Lifestyles 

Additionally, findings from PYMNTS’ study What Consumers Expect From Their Grocery Shopping Experiences, a collaboration with ACI Worldwide, which surveyed over 2,300 U.S. consumers about their grocery shopping behaviors, show that 23% of consumers are buying groceries online and having the products delivered to their house, and 76% of consumers shopping for groceries online report doing so because they believe it is easier and more convenient. 

Related news: Digital Features Can Help Grocers Win Over 43 Percent Of Shoppers