Specialty Delivery Continues to Grow in Urban Centers

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

Grocery delivery has been well-known and widely utilized service in Europe for a while. For example, major British grocery stores like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco all offer delivery of fresh groceries that you order directly through their website and are delivered to your door that same day for a delivery fee.

Now there is a rise of US based companies that are starting to offer buy online, pick up in store as an option, but the US market is still fairly untapped for grocery delivery. As compared to Europe, the US traditionally has a more widely distributed populace and fewer dense urban centers, and there wasn’t really a market for the service.

However, with the US trending toward more dense urban centers and the rise of smart cities, grocery delivery as part of a IoT 4.0 network and shoppers purchasing from home has allowed for the rise of grocery delivery services in the US. And it’s not like this was an idea that came out of the blue. Very popular food delivery services like Grubhub and Postmates would suggest that there is an opening for the service to be in demand – really, it’s not a far jump from food delivery to grocery delivery.

For example, Instacart, a grocery delivery startup, is looking to rapidly expand its service locations and is trying to draw in customers by offering opportunities like Instacart Express memberships. As their website proclaims, you can have groceries in three easy steps:

  1. Order fresh groceries online
  2. Schedule the delivery (in as little as an hour)
  3. Get it delivered fresh to your doorstep

Source: instacart.com

Instacart is available here in Charlotte. I’ve even seen it in action at my local Food Lion (which is not surprisingly what spurred this post).

Even Amazon is trying to grow this part of the market. As part of their Amazon Prime subscription, in select cities they are offering Prime Now to deliver “household items and essentials you need every day plus the best of Amazon, with FREE 2-hour delivery.” They even offer delivery from restaurants, helping shoppers consolidate delivery orders into one service (and growing Amazon’s footprint).

But why is this important for supply chain? Because it is indicative of trends within culture that will affect our industry’s ability to do our job. This has direct ties to things like smart cities, last mile delivery, and the rise of omni-channel models driven by customer demand for shorter delivery times for less money. Consumers look to companies like Amazon and start to demand specialized services as a norm. And supply chain has to keep up. But we’ll keep an eye on trends like this for you so we can push supply chain forward together.