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Grocery shoppers have more home delivery options

Both supermarkets and home delivery services are stepping up when it come to grocery ordering

This undated product image provided by Google shows the Google Shopping Express mobile app.(Photo: AP)

There's a grocery store arms race going on nationwide when it comes to home
delivery.

Like many business battles, this one involves the internet. Both large
corporations and independent businesses have introduced grocery delivery and
pickup services that allow you to order everything from turnips to laundry
detergent from the comfort of your screen.

About one in four American households currently buy some groceries online — up
from 19% in 2014, says a report released by Nielsen and the Food Marketing
Institute earlier this year. 

Retailers are trying out different ideas in some cities. For instance:

•Kroger. The supermarket giant offers a ClickList program, which allows customers to order items for pickup at 15 stores in th4 Louisville area.

•ValuMarket. Curbside Direct offers both pickup and delivery.

•Walmart. It allows customer to order items for pickup.

Then there are delivery services that bring groceries to customer's homes.

Green Bean Delivery. The service brings organic produce to customers'
doors. Instacart and Shipt, two web-based businesses that use personal
shoppers to fill and deliver your orders from various stores.

Instacart, based in San Francisco, runs similarly to Uber or Lyft by using
approved local drivers to pick up and deliver orders — as quickly as within
the hour.

Drivers can make stops at several partner stores, such as Kroger, Meijer and
Costco, then deliver all of the items to your home, a feature Melva Smith said
she'd be interested in trying.

Related:

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Organic food is pricier, but shoppers crave it

Amazon's $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods crushes stocks of supermarkets

Each program has its own nuances that companies hope will lead customers their
way. But when combined, the programs create a united force that's helping to
reshape the grocery landscape — both for the people who want the more hands-
off approach and those who need it.

Some services can stop at several stores, a feature that appeals to shoppers like Melva Smith.

Smith, who lives in a senior disabled community in Hurstbourne, Ky., said she
can't often get all of the items she needs in one place, so she'd be
interested in ordering through Instacart — as long as the service fit in her
budget.

"I generally go to Costco because I can buy large quantities at a much more
affordable price," Smith said. 

Cost is one barrier keeping some customers from trying grocery pickup or
delivery, according to several studies published by marketing firms.

Both Shipt and Instacart require users to pay a monthly or annual
subscription, and additional fees can be tacked on if an order doesn't reach a
minimum price.

Jack Riddle, a Louisvillian who delivers for both Instacart and Shipt, said he
doesn't think the services are geared toward purchasing a few items at a time.

But "if I'm going to get $200 worth of groceries, what's $5 to not shop around
for that stuff?" Riddle said.

Online grocery shopping cannot replace the experience of visiting a store, said Erin Grant, a corporate affairs manager for Kroger's
Louisville division.

"I think today's society is really into versatility and having options," Grant
said. "... For customers that really enjoy the shopping experience, we're not
going to take that away."

However, online grocery services could help eliminate some of the food access
issues associated with grocery store locations.

In Louisville, lower income neighborhoods are known to have fewer supermarket
options than neighborhoods of higher incomes. That often causes people with
unreliable transportation to have a harder time getting the everyday things
they need.

An affordable delivery service could cut down on the time needed for those
customers to do their grocery shopping. But one problem, as the system stands,
is that people who use food stamps to pay for their groceries are not allowed
to do so online.

Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at 502-582-4646 or bloosemore@courier-
journal.com.

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