Competition among supermarkets has gone well beyond Wednesday’s specials and reached a whole new level as the industry takes the battle to online grocery delivery.
Whole Foods Markets announced Monday that it has partnered with Instacart to deliver groceries in as little as an hour. This comes less than a week after a report from Bloomberg Intelligence found that the company, which has been “working to shed its ‘Whole Paycheck’ image, has become one of the cheaper chains for grocery shopping in Manhattan.”
The two companies will pilot the in-store pickup option at some Austin and Boston stores in the next month, while Instacart will deliver from Whole Foods Market in all of the 15 cities it currently serves in the coming months.
Some experts say Whole Foods is simply trying to play catch up.
Larger players like Walmart have been delivering groceries online far longer; Amazon has been hammering consumers with ads pushing its Prime Pantry, which launched at the beginning of the year. Prime Pantry allows its Prime subscribers to shop online for popular household essentials and have them delivered to their door.
“It’s a big ho-hum,” Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com, told The Fiscal Times. “Others are doing it and it’s a must have for Whole Foods but it won’t help them significantly. It’s just in 15 cities.”
Supermarkets such as ShopRite and Safeway as well as online exclusive grocers like Peapod and Fresh Direct are also pushing to extend their market share in the online grocery delivery marketplace.
According to Lempert, Google Shopping Express, which has collaborated with several retailers including Costco, and car-sharing service company Uber (which recently announced it is collaborating with any store selling food to offer same-day delivery) are the ones to watch closely. He noted that one of their main advantages is that they are in the transportation business.
With its new offering, Whole Foods customers will be able to order at Instacart.com or via the Instacart mobile app by selecting their zip code, adding items to a virtual cart, and then choosing a delivery window. Instacart Personal Shoppers will confirm incoming orders on their smartphones, shop for the items at Whole Foods Market stores, and then deliver orders to customers in the designated delivery timeframe.
“Whole Foods Market is our most requested shopping destination, and we’re happy to be working together to create a seamless, quick option for customers with busy lifestyles,” Apoorva Mehta, CEO and founder of Instacart, said in a press release.
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