ResTech

Grocers Get Creative With Delivery

There’s more than one way to bring groceries to consumers. Speedy delivery direct to their doorstep is certainly one, and one that’s garnering a lot of media interest these days, whether it’s through Amazon, Instacart, or even Walmart (which is taking it a step further and delivering direct-to-fridge in one location). Devising options for customers to buy online, pick up in-store (or at a 24-hour kiosk near the store) is another. But sometimes, a more creative approach in retail is needed.

Farmstead

In the same amount of time that it takes to go to the grocery store, park, situate the kids in a cart, fulfill the shopping list, check out and return home, a customer in the San Francisco Bay Area could have a complete order filled and delivered to their home without any of the hassle.

A Farmstead customer said they waited only 35 minutes to receive their $150 order. Business Insider reports that, compared to competitor services like Amazon, Farmstead delivery is faster (one hour or less) and cheaper (less than $5 per delivery, and in some cases, free — plus the service matches local grocery store prices).

The micro-grocer sources locally whenever possible but also sells produce and meat from farms across the U.S.

So what is a micro-grocer, anyway? In short, it’s the reason Farmstead can be cheaper and more efficient than its mainstream competitors. The service operates out of two 2,000-square-foot industrial spaces and offers only 1,000 products, using artificial intelligence to determine which items to stock and in what amounts based on customer buying trends.

This streamlined strategy has the added benefit of cutting down on food waste, which is rampant at regular grocery stores — they throw out an average of 30 percent to 40 percent of produce if it isn’t perfect. Reducing food waste is one of Farmstead’s long-term goals.

Finally, anything Farmstead doesn’t sell gets donated to the food bank network Feeding America, where it is passed on to a Bay Area women’s shelter.

Like many, Farmstead’s CEO Pradeep Elankumaran believes that on-demand delivery is the future of grocery. However, he also believes there’s still a long way to go. The startup aims to shape that future.

Meet-in-the-Middle Groceries

Rather than bringing grocery orders all the way to customers’ doorsteps, and rather than requiring those customers to make the trip to the store, the Corner Market is meeting them in the middle with its mobile one-aisle grocery store.

The 24-foot trailer is stocked with lean meats, fruit, vegetables and other basics. It reports to different locations at a set time each week, so customers nearby know when and where to expect to do their shopping – but, it skips the overhead costs and food waste issues that a stationary brick-and-mortar grocery store would face, especially in areas where demand just wouldn’t be high enough to sustain a traditional grocery business.

Shoppers at the Corner Market can pay with cash, credit, debit and EBT cards. Proceeds go toward restocking the market and making it (or one similar to it) available in other communities where it’s needed.

Food Desert Gets Its Just Desserts

Welcome to Vinton County, Ohio: 414 square miles of farmland and forest, where around one-fifth of the residents are elderly and around one-fifth live in poverty. Oh, and there’s no grocery store. It closed four years ago. Ever since, reports NHPR, the residents of this “food desert” have had to drive 10 miles each way — an hour’s round trip – to do their shopping.

Living in the middle of farm territory, you’d think there would never be a shortage of food. You’d be wrong. The fruits of those farms are exported to other parts of the country, leaving the area that produces them with no source of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or dairy.

But that’s all about to change.

The Vinton County resident in charge of the senior citizens group had had enough. In 2016, she and other volunteers drove around 150,000 miles back and forth, shuttling members of the group to get basic groceries.

Finally, she lobbied legislators and secured $1.5 million in grant and loan funding from the state to build a grocery store. Campbell’s market will open this fall under the ownership of Rick Campbell, an owner of two grocery stores in nearby counties.

A similar success story is playing out in Walnut, Illinois, where, eight years after the local grocery store closed its doors, a new store will finally be opening in its place. This one will be family-owned and -operated, stocking grocery staples, produce, meat and natural and gluten-free options.

How To Get Groceries Delivered In Maui

In more traditional grocery delivery news, Instacart is coming to Maui and Oahu, Hawaii, where it will partner with Safeway, CVS/Longs, Costco and Foodland starting on Thursday, Oct. 12. Instacart currently operates in 39 states and aims for nationwide coverage.

Instacart is reportedly the largest grocery delivery service to come to town, but it is far from the first: Many local grocers offer similar services, reported The Maui News, including one that’s been going for 20 years. However, the local competitor isn’t daunted — instead, she sees Instacart’s debut as a challenge to improve customer service and her retail business in general. That’s the capitalist spirit!

Speaking of competition, Amazon’s persistent downward drive in prices has forced Costco to sweeten the pot. The wholesaler is now offering same-day and two-day delivery — one delivering fresh food and shelf-stable groceries, the other delivering non-perishable items only.

However, as Life Hacker Skillet noted, customers still have to go to the store if they want to enjoy those free samples — and that, truly, is what the Costco experience is all about.

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