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Jenise

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The future of online grocery shopping?

by Jenise » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:53 pm

Do you? Have you? Will you?

A recent article in TIME indicates that Whole Foods and Harris Teeter are starting pilot programs here in the U.S. like some already popular overseas by distributors like Tesco. They're a hybrid of the traditional you go to the store, buy everything, and bring it home scenario and the full service delivery model that began 20 years ago in major metro locales but flopped in all but the high density urban areas. In this new version, you order online and pickup at a depot--which from the retailer's perspective enables about 20 pickups an hour vs. the three deliveries averaged when customers are miles apart. (Of course, delivery would remain an option--for a fee.)

A startup called Relay Foods on the east coast is already working it, and with enough success that they've expanded from its home base in Charlottesville to Williamsburg and Baltimore. What's made it particularly attractive to consumers is that 30% of Relay's groceries are sourced from local suppliers. The downside? Loss of spontaneity--orders to Relay have to be placed at least 13 hours in advance. How much of a problem is that to most? Not much perhaps. Relay says it is adding 1000 new customers per week.

I live so far out of town that I don't see myself even having the opportunity to use a service like this here, but I did try local delivery a few times when we lived in Huntington Beach. Like maybe: twice. Too hard to plan in advance, and I don't buy much in the way of package goods. Also, we have few routines in any department that would 'help' me out by delivering X, Y and Z every Monday, say. Which leaves mostly meat and produce, things I was also reluctant to trust selection of to a third party.

But if any of you here are doing this where you live, I'd love to hear how it's working out for you.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Karen/NoCA

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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Karen/NoCA » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:55 pm

I have no experience with online grocery shopping other than for unusual ingredients that I cannot get here such as white and black truffle butter, duck fat, and Penzey's Spices which are not unusual, but certainly offer more than what is available in grocery stores, and are much fresher. However, I know that Safeway stores does this in some areas because our dil has done it a few times in Sacramento. She was very pleased with their selections of produce and meat for her family.
Online grocery shopping is available with some organic produce providers in Redding, such as CSA boxes locally. I know of nothing on the scale you mention and there is no reason for our small family of two to participate at this time when we can get all we need locally. Going to the Farmer's Markets or to the local organic markets is a treat! I can see this being very popular in some areas among a certain populace.
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Doug Surplus

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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Doug Surplus » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:16 am

Maybe for spices and dry goods, pasta, oils, and other packaged stuff. But not for meat, fish and produce. I have to see it and pick out what I want.
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If God didn't want me to eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?
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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Jenise » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:18 am

Doug Surplus wrote:Maybe for spices and dry goods, pasta, oils, and other packaged stuff. But not for meat, fish and produce. I have to see it and pick out what I want.


Exactly. And since the proteins and produce is needed more often on a fresh basis, all the other items will be picked up in due course. No need for delivery.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:24 am

I have not used Fresh Direct but several people in my building have. One whom I particularly trust said that the meats and produce were very good, carefully trimmed and in good condition, respectively. She tried it because she fell on the ice, bruised her ribs, became inflamed... she couldn't lift anything for several weeks, not even a bag of groceries.

I will admit that I enjoy choosing my foods, though I will also admit that I plan ahead so that I don't have to shop every day.
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Carl Eppig

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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Carl Eppig » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:48 am

We're kinda with Karen. Due to our somewhat remote location (believe it or not; yes), we buy a lot of food and even sundries online; but not what you would collectively call "groceries." The most recent example is Ziploc Produce Bags. These do a great job keeping veggies and herbs fresh. We used to be able to get them from K-Mart and K-Mart only in the this area. Last week they informed me that they don't carry them any more, so I had to buy them online.
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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:16 pm

Like a lot of us, I'm torn about this. I love to shop at our farmers' markets and would not want to forgo the social fun of seeing friends and getting to know farmers and other producers face-to-face that we get at the farmers' markets that abound in this city during the season. No computer shopping is going to replace that!

I'm also philosophically committed to supporting local independent shops, stores and artisans, and I make every effort to buy most of our larder, if not from the farmers' markets, then from local merchants I love - here they have names like Lotsa Pasta, Rainbow Blossom, Valu markets, Paul's markets, The Root Cellar, and so it goes. Your local names will be different but the concepts will be similar.

But that being said, I can't deny that I go to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Penzey's sometimes, when I want something they've got and that item isn't in direct competition with "my" locals.

And we've got Amazon Prime and know how to use that, too.

Bottom line, I enjoy looking at and feeling and sniffing the food that I buy, and I enjoy supporting smaller, local merchants who probably won't be the first to go to this model.

But I can't honestly say "never."
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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Peter May » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:12 pm

I don't know what we'd do without it.

J's mother is 98 and has been housebound for the past decade and she lives a stressful 2.5 hours (in ideal conditions) drive away.

J orders weekly her groceries from Tesco who deliver then into the house and place in fridge/freezer as necessary.

Supermarket home delivery is a major competitive weapon here in UK and those that haven't offered it so far have lost market share. The hold out has just started.

J & I still go to the shops ourselves but what happens when we can't drive any more? At least while we can walk, we can get to the city centre shops, but how do people in the USA do it when even if you are in walking distance there are no pavements (=US sidewalks?). I am surprised its home deliveries are not bigger in US)
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Jenise

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Re: The future of online grocery shopping?

by Jenise » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:38 pm

Jeff and Peter, you both point out ways in which this service could be invaluable. My neighborhood has a lot of elderly persons who are living alone now, and I know those trucks would get quite a workout if they came this way. As it is, the Schwann's truck is a pretty common sight.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Karen/NoCA » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:14 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:We're kinda with Karen. Due to our somewhat remote location (believe it or not; yes), we buy a lot of food and even sundries online; but not what you would collectively call "groceries." The most recent example is Ziploc Produce Bags. These do a great job keeping veggies and herbs fresh. We used to be able to get them from K-Mart and K-Mart only in the this area. Last week they informed me that they don't carry them any more, so I had to buy them online.

I love those produce bags...they left our area years ago and I heard they were not selling in stores anymore. At that time, I bought a case of 6 boxes, and since we reuse the bags we use for produce, I have a lifetime supply. We wash them in warm water and soap, rinse well and dry them on a special drying gadget used for RV's, over the top of our service sink in the laundry room.
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Jenise

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Re: The futue of online grocery shopping?

by Jenise » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:30 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:
Carl Eppig wrote:We're kinda with Karen. Due to our somewhat remote location (believe it or not; yes), we buy a lot of food and even sundries online; but not what you would collectively call "groceries." The most recent example is Ziploc Produce Bags. These do a great job keeping veggies and herbs fresh. We used to be able to get them from K-Mart and K-Mart only in the this area. Last week they informed me that they don't carry them any more, so I had to buy them online.

I love those produce bags...they left our area years ago and I heard they were not selling in stores anymore. At that time, I bought a case of 6 boxes, and since we reuse the bags we use for produce, I have a lifetime supply. We wash them in warm water and soap, rinse well and dry them on a special drying gadget used for RV's, over the top of our service sink in the laundry room.


Your laundry's next to the kitchen then? How handy--I can only dream. Mine's at the other end of the house and as a result I'll admit I wash and reuse more bags (I do some, Bob won't do it) were mine closer.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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