October 9, 2006
Last Mile Groceries
The Sunday Oregonian has an article discussing how Safeway, Albertsons and New Seasons are approaching this market opportunity.
I spotted the creature in the wild on my street this morning. Apologies for the cell phone photo.
Original Post: 9/27/06
The morning paper brings the news that New Seasons will offer delivery of groceries ordered online. To avoid the misfortune of Webvan and other ill-fated Web 1.0 ventures into this arena, New Seasons will pull goods off their shelves rather than from a dedicated distribution facility.
I have decidedly mixed feelings about this. I wonder whether the VMT of the delivery trucks we be less than the VMT of trips to the stores? I also wonder whether the trips being displaced are auto trips or cycling or walking trips (well, probably all of the above, but in what proportions)?
On the non-transportation side of things (yes, I admit that transportation is not the only consideration), I like the idea that people will have easier access to the great (often local) food that New Seasons offers. But I also worry about the degradation of the grocery store as a center of community, and anything that reduces people's connection with their food sources.
September 27, 2006 9:37 AM
Maybe grocery story's should offer specially designed grocery bikes with some sort of membership. These bikes can be design with grocery travel in mind and regular shoppers can keep them at their homes for use too and from the store. Kind of like glorified shopping carts. I can see them being popular in the Division neighborhood for those just out of walking distance to New Seasons.
September 27, 2006 9:39 AM
Christopher Cotrell Says:
What would really be useful is the ability to go to the store, pick out what you want, go through checkout, and then have them deliver your order home. This could be done for a small fee, or with a minimum purchase. Most grocery stores in Vancouver, BC offer delivery for free on a purchase of over $30 or so.
Affordable, widely available delivery services are vital in getting people out of their cars. Many people who would be willing to bike or take transit to work are simply not going to figure out the logistics of carrying groceries for a family of four home on a bike or on the bus. Flexcar can certainly play a part in this, but in a way that seems like overkill for simply moving a bunch of groceries from point A to point B.
September 27, 2006 10:03 AM
Mark Bosworth Says:
Who said that the delivery vehicle can't be a bike? In NYC it is very common to see groceries and other items delivered by bike - chinese food being the most common site.
September 27, 2006 10:06 AM
Ross Williams Says:
I also wonder whether the trips being displaced are auto trips or cycling or walking trips (well, probably all of the above, but in what proportions)?
My guess is that those of us who shop by bicycle will continue to do so. This sounds more like a "personal shopping" service to reduce the time it takes to shop for groceries, rather than delivery. I think most people who use fresh ingredients still want to pick out their own groceries.
What would really be useful is the ability to go to the store, pick out what you want, go through checkout, and then have them deliver your order home.
I agree. There is a limit to how many groceries one can carry in a bike shopping bag - especially when you are talking about larger, heavier or fragile items. The ability to get milk, orange juice, beer, chips, bread and eggs and not have to figure out how to keep the eggs and chips from breaking and the bread from being crushed would be a great service.
September 27, 2006 10:16 AM
it's 9.95 for delivery, and $4.95 for pick-up. how often do you pop by the grocery store just to buy a few items, spending, say $25? how much money/time would you have to spend shopping in order to make paying that fee more desireable than buying a six pack of bridgeport ipa and a pint of ben and jerry's?
September 27, 2006 11:01 AM
Ross Williams Says:
it's 9.95 for delivery, and $4.95 for pick-up
Just to be clear - that is the cost when they do the shopping for you. I think cost has always been a problem for the online grocery shopping model. But there are people out there for whom $10 is not an issue - they can afford their beer, ice cream and pay to have someone deliver it.
If I was riding my bike and could buy a weeks worth of groceries, instead of just that evening meal, I might pay $5 to have them delivered. Especially if the alternative was going home and then getting in the car just to go shopping.
September 27, 2006 11:37 AM
Bob R. Says:
Safeway.com has been delivering in the Portland area for several years. Depending on when you schedule your delivery, it can be as low as $5, and I often receive coupons in the mail for free delivery.
Interestingly, deliveries to Portland apparently ship from their West Linn store.
The downside? There is no guarantee that you will get everything you ordered. If an item is out-of-stock, it will be dropped from your order and you won't know until the delivery truck arrives. It won't be delivered later. This is really bad if you have a small order, as the fixed delivery charge essentially increases on a per-item basis.
- Bob R.
September 28, 2006 12:33 AM
This is actually an efficient model for distribution, far better than people driving to the grocery store.
A while back (I'm looking for it, I "might" find it) someone did a study. A grocery store employing x number of trucks and making 4-5 drops per truck could save literally thousands of barrels of fuel by years end. ...vs. people going and shopping themselves.
But then of course, it's all about the touch, feel, and look of food that most people buy. Usually if someone wants food delivered, they're already getting Chinese, microwave meals from Schwann, or some other pre-made or pre-prepared items. The grocery store delivery service is cool, but I doubt it makes even the slightest dent in shopping habits over the next 5-10 years.
It would be amazing if it made a dent ever. :) I just don't see it happening.
September 28, 2006 12:58 AM
Jason McHuff Says:
Overall, I believe that an increase in delivery services would be a great way to encourage people to get out of their cars and/or downsize them. One of the arguments used on Usenet and elsewhere is that it is not possible to bring home large items (like furniture) and/or a lot of items (like a week's worth of groceries) without a car.
Another way of getting a trunk-load of groceries home (which I have done once or twice) is to call a cab. If you stock up for a while and/or go car-free, you are still saving money. In addition, I've found that with a big backpack and two plactic bags, I am able to bring home about $50 worth of food from a certian discount store--enough for a single person for a week. Being willing to buy bulky items seperately but closer to home, even if they're more expensive, also helps.
September 28, 2006 8:45 AM
Ross Williams Says:
I remember riding our bikes to an REI sale downtown. We bought a large, heavy tent and left in customer service. We then went home and drove downtown later to pick it up. A delivery service would have been nice.
October 3, 2006 2:20 PM
Lenny Anderson Says:
At least they got the vehicle right...Dodge Sprinter with a MB diesel getting 25 mpg.
Maybe it will help with their parking problems.
October 3, 2006 7:27 PM
If Portland were really serious about creating
a carfree living environment, planners would work
with the grocery chains so that supermarkets
would be located no more than 1/2 mile from most
people's homes--instead of the bizarre situations
now where you have supermarkets across or almost
across the street from each other, and wide
swaths of other areas have nothing at all.
From personal experience, this has really
limited me when looking for apartments.