Fresh Ideas: Grocers Play a Key Part in Fresh Food Delivery and Vending

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Grocery convenience has been a hot topic for several years, and the industry is seeing grocers developing relationships between the largest companies like Amazon to the smallest startups like Grocery Runners to provide services like store pickup, delivery, and vending. Customers are becoming more discerning in their food choices, even at the vending machine, and grocers are playing an important role in the growing demand for fresh food.

Amazon has partnered with the UK grocery chain Morrisons to deliver fresh and frozen groceries to Amazon Prime and Amazon Pantry customers. Amazon Fresh is currently being tested in a select market with a potential launch in other cities in the spring. Morrison’s chief executive David Potts mentioned that the grocer’s fresh food expertise and Amazon’s logistics was compelling.   Other grocery store chains in the UK who already offer delivery services are keeping a close eye on their largest competitor.

Ben Woods, writer for TheNextWeb.com, tested out Amazon Pantry in December. While this test occurred in the UK, it didn’t seem too different than an Amazon Pantry delivery in the U.S. Currently, he says that the overall grocery offering isn’t that great, and the service isn’t a challenge to supermarkets. Yet. However, once the catalog is expanded, especially in the fresh food category, the challenge to supermarkets might be serious.

Grocery Runners was launched in early January to capitalize on the popularity of Kroger’s online shopping tool called ClickList to keep up with customer demand for convenience. Kroger has offered online ordering and customer pickup, and now Grocery Runners picks up the orders and delivers them to customers’ doors.   The testing is happening in densely populated Cincinnati neighborhoods with early adopters and disposable income.

Finally, fresh food is making appearances in vending machines. A startup has received the seed money (pun intended) to test vending fresh and healthy offerings for the more discerning eater. It currently partners with onsite cafés where its kiosks are placed, and has plans to bring grocery staples directly to residential buildings. Eventually, the top-selling SKUs will be available in an unattended kiosk for someone to be able to go down to the lobby of a condo or apartment and get a pre-prepared healthy meal.

What is your organization doing to address customer demand for more convenient fresh food? Leave a comment below.