Grocery delivery is nothing new. Busy urbanites and senior citizens have long needed a little help getting food bags to their front doors. Expectations in recent years have changed, though, and the Internet and same-day fulfillment options have upped the ante.
An increasingly crowded field of competitors, from the startup Instacart to retail mega-players such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, have begun claiming territory. Now, the race is on to see who nails the formula and figures out how to become the go-to service for quick, accessible and dependable service.
Food retail now has a spectrum of services looking to carve out marketshare, and these ten players all want a piece of the pie. Here's a look at who they are what makes them unique:
Where it is: San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago area
Edge: same-day delivery, low delivery costs, personal shoppers, an annual membership option
Instacart is a relatively new company out of the Bay Area that focuses on speedy, same-day delivery, offering an under-two-hour option with a delivery fee of $3.99. Customers are connected with personal shoppers who pick up and deliver their groceries. Though unaffiliated with any stores, Instacart handles products from Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco or Dominick’s. Upon signing up for Instacart Express, customers are given a 14-day free trial of their annual membership plan that delivers all orders over $35 for free. Additionally, Instacart has iOS and Android apps that are sleek and image-driven.
Where it is: Seattle area, Los Angeles area
Edge: delivery of non-grocery items, subscribe and save option, free shipping for Amazon Prime members
Amazon.com recently decided to get into the buzzworthy grocery delivery market, and the move makes sense. Because of the site's large selection of other products, customers are able to order non-grocery items such as printer ink and allergy medicine with their milk and eggs. AmazonFresh offers a “subscribe and save” option where customers can denote how often they go through certain products for an extra 15% off each scheduled delivery. Existing Amazon Prime members receive many perks, such as 90 days of the service free of charge and free same-day and early morning deliveries.
Where it is: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington
Edge: Club Card discounts, large selection, temperature-controlled trucks
An advantage of the Safeway delivery program is their large variety of brands and items available. In certain areas, they are even able to ship alcohol and tobacco products. They are able to save customers money because tipping drivers is not expected. As Club Card members may know, Safeway offers many new discounts regularly as well as special “buy one get one free” deals. A promotion that is always running is free shipping for customers who buy five specific products and spend $150 more.
Safeway orders can be placed through its website, as well as through its mobile apps for iPhone and Android.
4. GOOGLE SHOPPING EXPRESS
Where it is: San Francisco Bay area
Edge: free six-month trial, retailer partnerships, same-day delivery, evening delivery
Starting earlier this year, Google launched a new Bay Area service that offers same-day delivery (as late as 9 p.m.) and an unlimited six-month free trial. Sign-up is easy, allowing customers to use their existing Google account information. Unlike other grocery delivery services, Google Shopping Express also has partnerships with non-food retailers, such as Office Depot, Toys “R” Us and Walgreens. The environmentally conscious service uses hybrid cars instead of trucks to delivery within a two-hour window. They have recently launched attractive iOS and Android apps that offer the same prices as in-store.
Where it is: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin
Edge: well known for reliability, friendly customer service, large selection, ability to use manufacturer coupons
Peapod was founded in 1989 out of Skokie, Ill., and delivers over 8,000 products out of local Giant and Stop & Shop stores. Orders can be placed up to seven days a week and up to two weeks in advance. Customers can redeem valid manufacturer coupons when they present them to the delivery driver. Even though their drivers can receive tips (certain other services do not allow for this), they are extremely courteous as a result. Peapod has a good online reputation for their friendly and helpful customer service which can even provide a two hour delivery window estimate.
Where it is: San Francisco Bay Area, China, Mexico
Edge: low prices, same-day service, large number of stores, Scan & Go Android app
Although Wal-Mart is currently the United Kingdom’s second-largest grocery delivery service, they have been testing store-pick same-day service in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., since 2010 and have plans for expansion soon. Wal-Mart is the largest grocer in the United States and is able to use their thousands of stores nationwide to fill online orders. Upcoming markets include Northern Va., Philadelphia and Minneapolis. They recently released an Android app for their Scan & Go service available at 200 stores.
Where it is: nationwide and internationally
Edge: delivery to all 50 states, international shipping option, frozen food offerings
ShopFoodEx, founded in 2002, delivers groceries nationwide and to APO/FPO addresses via UPS and USPS from their warehouse in Roanoke, VA. They even offer international shipping and shipping to United States Diplomats abroad. Shipping rates are dependent on location and package weight. One of their current discounts is 50% off shipping charges for orders over $100. An advantage over other online grocers is that they offer frozen food products.
Where it is: greater Connecticut, New Jersey and New York metro areas and Philadelphia
Edge: delivery to business addresses
FreshDirect serves the Tri-State area and recently celebrated their 10th birthday. Since FreshDirect’s area serviced is so focused, they are able to offer fresh produce, locally-grown organic products, sustainable seafood and Kosher foods. Last year, they launched a catering service for parties and events within the delivery area. New customers can purchase a DeliveryPass which offers free deliveries for 60 days.
Where it is: nationwide
Edge: ships via FedEx, delivery to all 50 states, large selection
Netgrocer boasts one unique feature with their method of delivery. They ship groceries via FedEx to all 50 states and APO/FPO addresses for a flat rate starting at $9.99. Since they were founded in 1999, their selection of products available has had much time to grow into the large size that they currently carry. They offer many specials and discounts regularly, such as $20 off a $50 purchase and 25%-50% off certain brands. The site also display unit price of each product to help customers figure out if they are getting the best deal.
Where it is: Central and Northern Virginia, District of Columbia and Maryland
Edge: local organic produce, products from restaurants
Relayfoods, founded in 2008, is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., and serves the D.C. metro area. They offer over 3,00 products including local organic produce and non-grocery items like diapers. Customers are able to shop by categories such as Sale, My Favorites, Best Sellers and Relayfoods offers discounts on organic versions of the pesticide-heavy Dirty Dozen. Although they do not currently have mobile apps, they recently redesigned and streamlined their mobile site.
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