Archive for the ‘Food Delivery’ Category

Service of Faster and Faster and Faster and For What?

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

I ran out of eggs while making a quiche the other evening. I was too lazy to go out–it was 7 pm–and I don’t know my neighbors so I improvised.

Winnie Hu and Chelsia Rose Marcius covered a potential solution to my missing eggs in their article in The New York Times. They wrote: “Now the nation’s largest city has become the biggest laboratory for the latest evolution in rapid e-commerce — a surge of online companies promising groceries at your door in 15 minutes or less, so no one has to worry about running out of milk or missing powdered cinnamon for a poundcake recipe.” This near instant grocery delivery service model is old news in London, Paris and Moscow.

An aside: The reporters prefaced news of the concept with the following: “The explosion of internet commerce has transformed New York City, with same-day delivery of a couch, a television or the latest laptop just a few clicks away as more companies compete for faster delivery.” This was posted on November 9. With the container backup I wonder how these promises are working out. A friend’s Christmas ornaments meant for sale in her store are sitting somewhere–but not on her shelves.

There is some downside to balance the convenience: Pedestrians are already at risk with the multitude of delivery people on bicycles–many motorized, driving at top speed in the wrong direction or on sidewalks. And what about the bottom line pressure on grocery stores whose owners pay dearly for substantial real estate and staff? And I cringe for the countless bodegas that city folk depend on for a quart of milk or can of soda.

Columbia Business School professor Mark A. Cohen conjectured that “grocery companies cannot realistically deliver in 15 minutes every time as their order volumes increase, or hold on to customers who may give them a try but grow disappointed with the limited selection of products.” Competitors working in some Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx neighborhoods include Buyk, JOKR, Gopuff, Gorillas, 1520 and Fridge No More. A supermarket carries some 35,000 products, report Hu and Marcius, where the micro hubs, maintained for fast delivery, stock from 1,500 to 5,000. One delivery worker told the reporters he dropped off 18 orders over 10 hours.

How does the model work that offers low or free delivery charges and products at standard prices? It does for those businesses, “with investors funding their operations for now,” the reporters wrote, that don’t pay for checkout or customer service employees and buy in bulk from manufacturers. Their locations needn’t be prime nor space big and they maintain tight inventories with little waste they reported.

If the price of goods remains moderate and delivery charges modest I see a use for the 15 minute delivery in market niches such as parents caring for infants and young children as well as the infirm. The frantic who juggle too much would also be likely targets.

Back to my quiche. I wouldn’t have ordered half a dozen eggs through a high speed grocery delivery service. I’d need to retrieve the package from the lobby because deliveries have not been permitted upstairs throughout the pandemic. Once downstairs I’d rather walk up the block to the deli than order online.

I’m statistically insignificant. I’m surely among the few in my giant apartment building who enjoys picking up my Chinese and Mexican takeout meals. What’s seven blocks? [Many other options are a block away but are not my favorites.] At certain times of day and on weekends the numbers of food deliveries to athletic looking 30-somethings made to this building are jaw dropping.

Do you think this almost instant food delivery service will be a flash in the pan? Does the concept appeal to you? Will you give it a whirl?


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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