Online ordering and grocery delivery is not the end of grocery stores


Online ordering and grocery delivery is not the end of grocery stores

Photo: Some grocery stores like Hy-Vee, ALDI and Walmart offer online ordering and pickup and a grocery delivery service, but this does not mean that the physical locations are going away anytime soon. Photo by Lexie Troutman, Ames Tribune.

By Lexie Troutman, staff writer 

Even with some grocery stores across the United States offering online shopping and pickup, and some offering delivery service, the in-person experience of going to the grocery store is not something that is going to be going away in the near future.

David Swenson, associate scientist in economics at Iowa State University, said that with a lot of services offering delivery, some, like pizza places that have delivered for years, while others, like Uber Eats delivery that have been fairly recent, grocery stores may be looking deciding to get into the field of delivery as well.

“Is the amount of sales so significant that it justifies creating this activity? You would assume they had done their research, but my answer is, I don’t know. I think they’re in the early stages of, is this something that will pay off?” Swenson said.

Swenson said that like with any business, the grocery service has evolved throughout the years. He said that when he was growing up, the grocery store near him offered a delivery service because some customers may not have been able to get to the store.

That service went away when more people had cars and were travelling for business. When that happened, grocery stores built their locations to be near main roads. He said some other stores, like Hy-Vee, expanded to not only offer groceries, but bakeries, delis, and other services to bring more customers in.

So why add a delivery service when it doesn’t bring customers in?

Christina Gayman, director of public relations at Hy-Vee said that they still want their customers to come into the stores, but the added service is to help when customers may not have enough time to run to the store, or they may not be physically able to get there.

Hy-Vee began offering the pickup and delivery service in April of 2015 in some stores in Des Moines. A few months later, the service was at all of their locations across the eight states in which they are located.

In Ames, apart from Hy-Vee, there are other options for people to get their groceries delivered or to pick them up.

Both Walmart locations offer delivery and pickup services, and ALDI offers delivery through the Instacart delivery service.

Target also offers both pickup and delivery, but their delivery service is through the Shipt delivery service that they recently purchased. Customers do need to become a member on Shipt to access the feature.

While there are stores that are offering this service, there are also stores that are not, such as Fareway.

Emily Toribio, Fareway spokeswoman, said the store does have an online meat market where a customer can choose from a slightly smaller selection of their meats to send to other states. As they move into the future, the company has been discussing the possibility of providing some sort of delivery service or other e-commerce business ideas.

“We’re kind of in a study phase of what’s going to work best for us,” Toribio said.

Swenson said that many stores that offer delivery are doing it in locations that have more congested traffic where getting to the store may be more difficult.

“Shopper convenience is something that retailers are paying attention to,” he said. “They’re going to keep exploring and experimenting with it. It just really depends on the market. Near San Francisco, that could make a lot of sense, but maybe not as much in Lincoln, Nebraska or Ames, Iowa.”