Grocery Roundup: Grocers Use Direct Catering Ordering to Compete With Instacart; eGrocery Delivery May Come to Military Bases

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With online grocery channels proving to be sticky even in periods of lower contagion concerns, many grocers are now finding ways to bring more of their business into the digital sphere. One of the key areas of innovation here in the past several months has been catering, enabling large-scale pre-orders through eCommerce platforms.

Now, Schnucks, the St. Louis-based grocery retailer operating 111 stores across four Midwestern states, is joining the mix. The company announced Wednesday (Feb. 9) that it is launching party planning order-ahead through its rewards app and its website at 59 stores.

“Customers at more than half our locations can now order what they want, when they want for their parties and family gatherings simply by using their smartphones, tablets and computers,” Schnucks Senior Director of Digital Experience Chace MacMullan said in a statement. “To save customers time and hassle, orders are paid for in advance, and ready for pickup at the deli counter so there is no need for customers to wait in line at the checkout.”

The move comes four months after online grocery giant Instacart announced its acquisition of catering software company FoodStorm with the goal of enabling catering orders from grocery stores through Instacart’s marketplace. By launching a direct ordering large-basket preordering tool, Schnucks is able to own its catering transactions, retaining the profits and gaining valuable consumer data.

Government Planning eGrocery Delivery Pilot at Military Installations

The United States government is looking to bring online grocery delivery ordering to military bases and other installations, according to a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM) notice first reported on by on Wednesday (Feb. 8).

The notice shows that the government is planning to pilot the service at eight commissary locations in the continental United States through the existing Commissary CLICK2GO Online Ordering portal, which currently offers curbside pickup.

“This DeCA ecommerce application has the capability to support eCommerce Delivery Services to provide additional access to the benefit to eligible patrons,” the notice states. It goes on to specify that the delivery service contractor would need to provide “personnel, equipment, supplies, transportation, tools, materials, supervision, and other items necessary to perform eCommerce-based delivery services,” with the exception of “picking, bagging, and staging groceries/goods, in preparation for pick-up by the Contractor.”

Additionally, noted that the pilot is expecting to offer two-hour delivery slots and to run for just over months.

When asked for comment on the timeline of this project, Defense Commissary Agency spokesperson Kevin Robinson told, “It would not be appropriate for the Defense Commissary Agency to comment on the specifics of this procurement action.”

Aldi Plans Major US Expansion

Aldi is aiming to be one of the biggest names in the United States grocery space, aiming to be the third-largest grocery retailer in the country by the end of 2022.

The Essen, Germany-based multinational discount supermarket chain, which has more than 2,100 stores in the United States alone, announced Wednesday that, on its way to this goal, it is opening around 150 new stores across the country as well as a new 564,000-square-foot regional distribution center in Alabama.

“There is nothing like watching shoppers discover ALDI for the first time,” Jason Hart, CEO of ALDI U.S., said in a statement. “There’s a moment of surprise when they realize just how much they can save by shopping with us. We can’t wait to share that experience with more customers as we add new stores across the Southeast.”

As it is, Aldi is already one of the frontrunners when it comes to shopper frequency, according to data from PYMNTS’ study Decoding Customer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty to Merchants Survey 2022. The report, created in collaboration with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, which featured the results of a census-balanced survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumer, noted that Aldi was the fourth-most frequently visited grocery merchant, with 4.3% of consumers having made a purchase from the brand in the previous 30 days, just behind third-place brand Publix at 4.6%.

Get the full report: Decoding Consumer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty To Merchants Survey 2022

Peapod Makes Moves Toward Private Label Growth

Amid steep competition, online grocers are being challenged to find new ways to differentiate their offerings. Peapod Digital Labs, the United States eCommerce arm of Netherlands-based multinational grocery giant Ahold Delhaize, is approaching the issue by investing in its private label products. The company announced Wednesday that has tapped a new senior VP of private brands, grocery veteran Ian Prisuta.

“I am confident that Ian’s leadership and experience will enable us to deliver products with compelling price and product positioning and a story that surprises and inspires customers, especially during a continued time of growth for the private brand sector,” Peapod Digital Labs President of Digital and Commercial Services JJ Fleeman said in a statement.

The announcement came about three weeks after ultrafast eGrocer Buyk and on-demand food and convenience delivery service Gopuff both announced their own new private label brands.

Related news: Ultrafast Delivery Aggregators See Private-Label Brands as Path to Profitability