The Covid-19 situation has caused a lot of people to try online shopping for things they had previously bought in physical stores. Groceries, in particular, were something that most people preferred to buy in person, usually buying online only for specialty products that were hard or inconvenient to find locally. But with the lockdowns, a lot of people have started using the various online shopping platforms. These seem to fall into three primary categories:
–Systems such as Giant Peapod (recently rebranded as just Giant Food), which are operated by a grocery chain or an individual store. Some systems will deliver directly from a warehouse, bypassing their brick-and-mortar store locations. And sometimes an option is offered to preorder electronically, with in-store or curbside pickup at the store.
–Systems such as Instacart, which are more or less vendor-agnostic: these systems will allow you to place orders for any of several stores in your area, after which one of their shoppers will collect your order from the vendor’s regular store.
–Systems (Boxed is an example) which are have no store presence; they are only for online ordering and home delivery, but do the delivery from their own facilities…many kinds of products, obviously, are susceptible to this model only if shipped express with dry ice or similar packaging (expensive) or if the vendor has local facilities in the same area as the customer.
The relative success of these approaches will have great implications not only for the futures of the various merchants and system providers, but also for the commercial real-estate market. Systems that use the existing stores for fulfillment, such as Instacart, are beneficial to the survival and thriving of strip malls and other commercial space where grocery stores are typically located; systems focused on warehouse delivery are beneficial to the industrial property market but not so for retail properties.
Your thoughts and experiences?