Grocery Roundup: Instacart Woos Lower-Income Consumers; Williams-Sonoma Eyes Contextual Commerce


Instacart is aiming to expand its user base to include lower-income customers. On Thursday (Nov. 11), the online grocery platform announced features aimed to woo price-conscious shoppers, including a “Deals” tab and a reduced cost and free delivery option for orders in advance in select markets. The company also announced that members of its Express program, which offers free delivery for a set monthly or annual cost, can receive 5% credit back on eligible pickup orders.

“Outside of rent and transportation, groceries are one of the largest monthly budget expenditures for most households,” Asha Sharma, chief operating officer of Instacart, said in a statement. “Online grocery shouldn’t be a luxury, and we’re committed to making Instacart the most affordable way for families across North America to get the food they need from the retailers they love.”

The move comes alongside the launch of the company’s Dollar Store Hub, featuring delivery from around 14,000 dollar stores, including 6,800 Dollar Tree locations.

Instacart is seeking a way to woo digital holdouts who may be put off by the high prices and fees typically associated with online delivery orders. PYMNTS research from the 2021 How We Eat Playbook, created in collaboration with Carat from Fiserv, found that just 59% of grocery shoppers with an income of under $50,000 utilize the channel, compared to 74% of those whose income is over $100,000.

See also: Up for Grabs: Restaurants and Grocers See Path to Picking up 200M New Customers

Instacart Grows Its Presence in Alcohol On-Demand

It’s been a busy week for the online grocery platform. On Monday (Nov. 8), Instacart also announced that it had expanded its relationship with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based supermarket chain and discount retailer Meijer to include same-day alcohol delivery. With this expansion, the service will reach almost three-quarters of all American households.

“We’re proud to deepen our partnership with Meijer, bringing its expansive alcohol selection online and giving customers even more access to Meijer’s one-stop-shop selection via same-day delivery,” Chris Rogers, vice president of retail at Instacart, said in a statement. “We know that alcohol eCommerce is a clear growth driver for our retail partners, which typically see their basket sizes increase by 25% with alcohol.”

The move comes after DoorDash rolled out on-demand alcohol delivery across 20 states, and Uber finally completed its acquisition of on-demand alcoholic beverage marketplace Drizly.

Read more: The Bring-It-to-Me Economy Comes for Alcoholic Beverages with DoorDash, Uber

The alcohol on-demand category is growing. Almost half of the 1,200 consumers surveyed by PYMNTS earlier this year reported that they were ordering alcohol for same-day delivery more often now than they did before the pandemic. Yet the market remains under-penetrated: The survey found that only 14% of alcohol drinkers reported that they have purchased alcohol online to have it delivered the same day.

Williams-Sonoma Lays Groundwork for Contextual Commerce with Recipes App

Kitchenware brand Williams-Sonoma announced on Wednesday (Nov. 10) the launch of a subscription app that gives consumers access to a library of thousands of recipes, cooking videos, tutorials and more. The app, Williams-Sonoma Recipes, also features a tool for consumers to build grocery lists, presenting an opportunity for the company to integrate the ability to shop into the app.

Although the brand hasn’t yet launched any partnerships with grocers, it’s not difficult to see where this feature is going, given the proliferation of contextual commerce partnerships between culinary content providers and grocers. Take, for instance, media giant Meredith Corp.’s shoppable recipes partnership with Walmart or Pinterest’s partnership with Albertsons Cos. to integrate shoppability into posts on the social media platform.

In a sense, Williams-Sonoma is leaving money on the table if it doesn’t take advantage of the sales opportunity associated with serving up a list-building feature along with its recipe book.

Related news: Walmart Partners With Meredith for AI-Informed Contextual Grocery Commerce

“Recipe content has always been incredibly shoppable,” Jason Young, president of digital shopper marketing platform Chicory, told PYMNTS in an interview. “If you look at recipes historically, they’ve always been a point of inspiration, a point of kicking off the food shopping process.”

California’s Online Grocery Market Heats up With the Arrival of Misfits Market

Misfits Market, the sustainability-focused online grocer that made headlines in September for a $225 million Series C-1 funding round that brought its total funding to over $526 million and its valuation to $2 billion, announced on Wednesday (Nov. 10) that it is launching in California, reaching every zip code in the state.

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The New Jersey-based company focuses on selling sustainably sourced goods, including visually unappealing produce and items that are getting close to their best-by date, while promising lower prices than physical grocery stores. California, where Misfits Market will compete with a wide range of local and national players, marks the eGrocer’s 44th state.

“Since launching Misfits Market in 2018, we’ve had a vision to deliver a complete — and better —online grocery experience nationwide,” Abhi Ramesh, CEO and founder of Misfits Market, said in a statement. “Everything we’ve done up until this point has been in service to that, whether building our own in-house technology to support our food value supply chain or expanding our supplier relationships to bring more products to customers.”