Grocery Round-Up: SNAP’s Delivery Expansion, Amazon’s No Charge Pick-ups And The Store Building Binge

Another busy week in the rapidly digitizing world of grocery with a focus this week on making digital grocery orders more accessible to all coming in new upgrades to Whole Foods pickup and Aldi and Instacart’s joint SNAP expansion push. But even as consumers are getting increasingly digital in the grocery preferences, big names and big chains are still bulking up their store counts — albeit with a different vision for those physical locations than they’ve had in the past.

A lot of moves, and a lot of moves, as the shopping season begins and the race to be the customer favorite for groceries however, whenever, feels like it’s going a bit faster everyday.

The Aldi, Instacart SNAP Expansion

Grocery delivery start-up  Instacart has teamed with ALDI to debut EBT SNAP payments for same-day eCommerce supermarket delivery and pickup.

The new offer will allow SNAP beneficiaries to access fresh food and pantry staples via the Instacart app for the first time with the offering and will allow consumers to choose how much of their benefits they wish to spend on their order.

The initiative will start rolling out over the next several weeks in Aldi’s 60 Georgia locations. In the longer run, the service will grow over the next several months to the grocer’s 570 retail locations throughout California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The debut of Instacart’s EBT SNAP payments occurs as American food insecurity has come to call on over 54 million individuals due to the impacts of the pandemic. According to Instacart’s announcement of the program, in Georgia food insecurity affects 12.5 percent of the population.

Whole Foods’ New One-Hour Pickups 

Free, one-hour grocery pickup is coming to  Whole Foods locations across the U.S. for Prime members, according to an announcement by Amazon earlier this week. With a minimum order of $35, consumers can place an order via the Amazon App in the Whole Foods tab and grab a pick-up time within the hour. Previously, the eCommerce giant was offering the pickup service at only some of the 487 Whole Foods stores across the country.

According to Amazon, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a massive move to online grocery shopping, home delivery and curbside pickup. It is expected that many will continue this way of shopping beyond the pandemic. More than 40 percent of monthly Whole Foods orders are picked up by people using the service for the first time, Amazon further noted

“Prime members in more than 2,000 locations can also receive unlimited free, two-hour delivery from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market on orders of $35 or more. Aside from groceries, Amazon Fresh also delivers other essentials, electronics, and more, within two hours,” they went on to note.

And Whole Food enthusiasts will soon have more stores to give the service a try as Amazon is one of many grocery players expanding their physical footprints along with their digital services roster.

The Grocery Store Building Binge 

Consumers may be converting to digital shopping methods, but physical grocery stores are still opening,  with AmazonWhole Foods and ALDI all making plans to cut the ribbon on new brick-and-mortar sites in Chicago and other major metros nationwide.

Amazon Fresh, a new physical retail concept from Amazon, is setting up shop in four locations in the Chicago market, the Chicago Tribune reported. Amazon additionally has plans to open over a dozen new Whole Foods between now and early 2021.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, low-cost supermarket chain ALDI  has plans to add two new stores to the Phoenix area in early November.

“We’re thrilled to continue expanding in the Southwest, and we take great pride in reaching this milestone as we open our first Arizona stores,” Aldi Group Director of Operations and Logistics Tom Cindel noted.  And Arizona will be one of many places to see a new Aldi’s open up as the chain has plans to open over 70 retail locations by the end of 2020.

Everybody Loves Walmart 

The latest IPSOS grocery study is out, and it names Walmart, Sam’s Club and H-E-B were as the top-performing U.S. grocery retailers for in-store pickup, curbside pickup and home delivery, respectively.

Walmart showed consistently strong performance across all measure attributes for its buy online pick-up in-store services, with particularly high marks given for signage guiding guests to the pick-up area and exceptionally high performance at getting groceries delivered to consumers’ cars very quickly at 98 percent of visited locations.

Sam’s Club shone particularly when it came to curbside pick-up, rated by Ipsos to show “near-perfect performance.”  Supermarket giant Kroger was a close second in the category.

In grocery delivery, Ipsos ranked Texas grocery chain H-E-B first, followed closely by Amazon’s Whole Foods Market in the No. 2 spot.

“As we continue to see the adoption and usage of these new digital offers rise and continue to stick, it is important that brands have the mechanism to ensure they deliver a seamless and safe customer experience for these new users,” Carlos Aragon, vice president of U.S. channel performance at Ipsos noted in a statement.

And, as this track demonstrates weekly, the brands understand the importance of delivering those new digital experiences and offers — the race is swift when it comes to rolling those products out, and getting the word out among consumers.