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Most of the country has been under stay-at-home orders for months—and even as states start to reopen, many consumers are still feeling hesitant about resuming their normal, daily activities.
But even in the midst of COVID-19, people need their groceries—and, as a result, the demand for grocery delivery has skyrocketed.
Grocery delivery makes it easy for consumers to get the essentials they need without having to go out and do the grocery shopping themselves—which has never been an easier sell than it is now.
But what about from the perspective of grocery stores? What are the benefits to offering grocery delivery to your customers? And which are the best grocery delivery services to partner with—and make sure your customers are getting their groceries quickly, safely, and affordably?
Why should you consider grocery delivery
First things first—before we jump into the different grocery delivery services, let’s quickly cover how offering grocery delivery to your customers can help your business.
While food delivery has been a staple for some time, grocery delivery has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years; people are used to shopping online and through apps, and the convenience of getting groceries delivered appealed to people who either didn’t have or didn’t want to spend the time going to grocery stores themselves.
But COVID-19 transformed the grocery industry. Now, getting groceries delivered is about more than convenience; for many people, like the elderly or people with preexisting health conditions, grocery shopping doesn’t feel safe. And, as a result, more shoppers than ever are going online for their groceries.
According to data outlined in a recent GeekWire article, 42 percent of shoppers surveyed purchased groceries online at least once a week in March 2020—up from 22 percent in 2018. And more than half of respondents said the current pandemic was “leading them to permanently boost their willingness to buy groceries online.” So, the shift towards online grocery shopping and delivery is set to continue even after the coronavirus pandemic is behind us.
In order to keep up with consumer demand to buy groceries online or through an app, grocery store owners are going to need to shift their operations to offer convenient grocery delivery services.
Some of the larger grocery chains and retailers have managed that shift internally. For example, consumers can get groceries delivered from Walmart directly through Walmart Grocery Delivery, put in a Whole Foods order through services available to Amazon Prime members with their Prime membership (like Amazon Fresh or Prime Now), or get Stop & Shop delivery through the chain’s Peapod delivery service.
But offering direct delivery services isn’t realistic for many local stores or smaller grocery chains; the added costs of hiring extra staff to fulfill orders and delivery groceries just doesn’t make sense.
That’s where grocery delivery services come in. When you partner with a grocery delivery service, your grocery store and available items are listed on their app and/or on their website. Customers log into their account, shop for their groceries (including fresh foods, non-perishables, and other staples), and choose a delivery window or time slot. Then, the app matches that customer with personal shoppers who go out to the store, do the shopping for them, and deliver them straight to their door. (Some delivery services only employ delivery drivers and ask that the grocery stores fulfill the orders.)
Grocery delivery services generally make their money from the consumer, through delivery fees, service fees, and/or product markups. But on the grocery store side, there’s generally few—if any—costs to get started.
From a business perspective, working with a shopping service is a win-win situation; you get to offer the grocery delivery services your customers want—without the time, hassle, or investment of building out a delivery system yourself.
So, the question is—how, exactly, do you choose a grocery delivery service to work with?
Things to consider when choosing a grocery delivery service
When choosing a grocery delivery service to partner with, there are a few things you’ll want to consider, including:
- Delivery options. You want to choose a delivery service that makes things as easy and convenient as possible for your customers. What kind of delivery options do they offer? For example, do they over same day delivery? What about free delivery? Can customers choose their delivery time? The more options a delivery service offers, the more convenient it is for your customers—and the better it is for your business.
- Free delivery options. Some delivery services offer free delivery if a customer meets a minimum order threshold (for example, free delivery with an order minimum of $50). The promise of free delivery encourages shoppers to spend more per order—and a higher order amount means more revenue for your grocery store.
- Fees. Consumers will shop around for lower fees—so ideally, you’ll choose a grocery delivery service that offers low fees to their customers.
- Delivery area. It doesn’t make sense to partner with a delivery service that won’t deliver to your customers—so before you decide to partner with any service, review their delivery area and make sure it aligns with your customer base.
- Ease of use. Again, customers are looking for convenience, so make sure the delivery service you choose is easy for customers to navigate.
- Personal shopper safety. You want to work with a company that takes care of their people, so make sure you choose a delivery service that prioritizes the safety of their personal shoppers, particularly as we navigate COVID-19.
The best delivery services for grocers
Now that you know what to look for when choosing a grocery delivery service, let’s take a look at some of the delivery services you may want to partner with:
Arguably the most popular grocery delivery service on the market, Instacart partners with a variety of retailers, including grocery powerhouses, (like Kroger and Safeway); smaller, local chains; and independent grocers.
Delivery fees start at $3.99. Customers will also pay a 5 percent service fee on non-alcohol items (service fees for alcohol vary by price).
For $9.99/month or $99/year, customers can also join Instacart Express, a membership service that offers free delivery on all orders above $35. (Express members are exempt from the 5 percent service fee).
Instacart allows customers to get same-day delivery or schedule a delivery for a future date, although high demand may impact available time slots.
Instacart is available in hundreds of cities across the US. You can check to see if Instacart delivers in your area here.
Shipt is a grocery delivery service that partners with a variety of businesses, including large grocery chains; pharmacies; pet stores; and local, independent grocers.
Shipt is a membership based service; customers can either sign up for their yearly plan for $99 or pay $14 per month. Once a customer pays their membership fee, delivery is free for any orders over $35. (There’s a flat $7 fee for orders under $35.)
Shipt offers both same-day delivery and scheduling for future deliveries.
Shipt is currently available in over 200 cities across the United States. You can check if Shipt offers delivery services in your area here.
Mercato is a grocery delivery service focused on independent grocers. Currently, the platform works with over 1000 local and/or independent grocery and speciality food stores.
Delivery fees typically range from $5 to $25, depending on the distance between the customer and the grocery store. Customers can subscribe to Mercato’s membership service, Mercato Green, for unlimited free same-day delivery for orders over $35. Membership is $96/year for the Neighborhood plan (which covers a 3-mile radius) and $276/year for the City plan, which covers a 10-mile radius.
Mercato offers fast, same-day delivery; orders are often delivered in less than an hour. The company’s maximum delivery radius is 16 miles.
Currently, the platform works with over 1000 local grocery and food stores in major cities across the United States, including New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle. You can check if Mercato is available in your area here.
If your grocery store is based in Texas, you’ll definitely want to check out Burpy. Similar to Instacart or Shipt, Burpy uses personal shoppers to fulfill orders at local grocery stores—only their service is focused in cities across TX.
Any orders below $50 carry a flat $4.99 delivery fee, while orders above $50 are free. If a customer wants to add multiple shops to their order, they’ll pay a $6.99 fee for each additional store.
Burpy offers same-day delivery as long as customers place orders before 9pm. They also allow customers to schedule future deliveries and can deliver to either a residence or a business.
Currently, Burpy is only available in Texas, with delivery service in five cities: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston.
Good Eggs is a Bay Area delivery service that mostly partners with local farmers and growers. They do, however, also partner with local grocers and food companies as long as the items meet their food standards.
The delivery fee for orders between $30 and $80 is $7.99 (Good Eggs has a minimum order of $30). Deliveries over $80 are free. Certain time windows during popular delivery times also carry an additional $3.99 fee.
Good Eggs offer same-day delivery for orders placed by 1pm. Shoppers also have the option to schedule future and/or recurring deliveries.
Currently, Good Eggs is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area.