I have found home delivery very useful, especially after having a baby. I don't enjoy going to a supermarket after work on weekdays, but receiving a delivery is easy and means the weekend is free. The main psychological barrier is that it takes surprisingly long to choose groceries online, almost as long as walking around the store. They try to make it easier by suggesting things you usually order, but it's still something you have set aside time for.
I think this is part of why I don't get food delivered; I'm quite close to the store and wandering round the aisles is a good prompt for buying things. Especially as I'm very special-offer-driven.
I've been considering writing a random recipe generator/selector to help with this. "Why not buy $(meat) and $(vegetable), $(cooking_process) it and serve with $(sidedish)?" Add a "That is a terrible idea, computer" button to tweak the Markov parameters a bit and bam, MVP.
(Yes, I know the special offers are something of a con, but I also have a good idea of what the non-offer prices are!)
Some random taxi driver sticking a pallet in their boot (sorry, trunk) seems like a pretty crap and expensive alternative.
Webvan is back. Try "http://www.webvan.com/". It's part of Amazon now. Webvan's operations head and some of his team went to Amazon. Amazon management observed that customers liked Webvan, and it would be a viable business if they could get the operating cost down. So the Webvan group was part of the effort to robotize Amazon's operations and build more local warehouses. Expansion is more cautious this time, but profitable.
Similarly, if you don't know expected volumes a test run without large capital / personnel costs is very reasonable.
Regarding your comment on choosing groceries online:
My wife is a huge fan of Walmart-To-Go (order online, pull up to a designated station in a parking lot at your convenience, and they bring them out and load them into your vehicle), and now gets the shopping done in minutes, because after you first few orders, the app does a very good job of letting your past orders inform new ones.
There's a fair amount of standard stuff we buy as well, but if we're already in the stores it doesn't take that much additional time to grab it.
The first time I tried Amazon Fresh the mailman showed up in the morning before his route with my groceries rolling around in the back of the mail truck. I unloaded them myself, and also had to give back the re-usable bags before he left.
I tend to place an order about once every 2-3 weeks, and supplement it with "top up" shops for fresh items (meat, veg etc) in a mini-supermarket on my way home from work every so often.
That's cool. So they keep a history of everything you've purchased? Do they do that by credit card or do you log in some how when you purchase instore?
* Convenience Store
* Dollar store (a little more food options at places like Dollar General/Tree/Family Dollar, usually with a small refrigerator section and eggs and milk and juice)
* "Mini" grocery stores, like Piggly Wiggly Express or Dollar General Market
* Stores with mostly food and limited selection like Aldi
* Supermarkets like Kroger and Publix
* Supercenters like Super Walmart and Super Target with full supermarket selection and lots of other stuff
Sainsburys pulled their dedicated app and you have to use the crappy mobile web.
Then again, the amount you can order online is a lot larger than what you can carry yourself.
I tend to order from wholesalers online, for amounts that would require a cab and a lot of carrying heavy stuff if I purchased that physically.
Same in Australia.
Two days ago, they delivered 1/3 of what they were meant to. So, they scheduled a re-delivery for the following day for the remaining items. Again, they forgot two of them.
Safeway has a nice approach to scheduling. You can request a 1-hour, 2-hour, or 4-hour delivery window. Shorter windows cost more.
After a few weeks, when (usually) the mother of the new baby is willing to venture out, she will visit the grocery store to buy extra things.
Turns out that the spending level of online groceries doesn't drop, but the spending level of ad-hoc in-store purchases does, resulting in an overall increase in spending.
This is true for my family. The UK also has seen an increase of convenience stores which carry a 5% price premium. People like to by a little often, than to buy a lot every week.
The behaviour of grocery shopping has shifted a lot in the past 5 years in the UK.
Edit: Spelling and clarity
This certainly matches our experience. We've been using Google Express a ton to get the regular necessities that come with having children: diapers, cheerios, food for lunches, etc.
We have a grocery store within walking distance that we still visit regularly for produce, perishables, and the odd ingredients that dinner sometimes requires.
Even a lot of bodegas have their own little websites for ordering.
I am hesitant to adopt them. I guess we are finicky about how we shop. Fearful of the bad head of lettuce or banana or what have you. Or how will we know they didn't chose the yogurt that expires in two days over the one that has two weeks?
What my girlfriend and I do is use AnyList (there are multiple other apps, but we are liking this one). And start at opposite ends of the store. Checking off the list real time as we shop.
There are ways around this though. Using Ocado in the UK, they will specify minimum lifetimes for all of the products you order and display them prominently (for example, in the iPhone app: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3d0awqydeqq386v/2016-06-03%2019.58...)
I'm pretty sure they'll also refund anything you aren't happy with, which helps to keep quality high.
In the UK you simply tell the delivery driver that you're not happy with the item and he marks it for refund. Generally they hand the item back as well, no point carrying it back to the store to be dumped.
I think it's a matter of geography/density
And we had Prime Now first.
Even over 15-20 years back, my mom used to get door delivery of the month's groceries by just making a phone call.
One of the reason's for the success of this model was that most customers did not have a car to transport all of their groceries and phone-order was the easiest option available to them. (I'm talking about the late 90s when Internet was not that common).
Of course, it works on the assumption that the customer exactly knows what they want - rather than making them buying arbitrary items at the store.
Most of the merchants circulate their menu/deals along with newspapers and have a phone number that customers can reach them at. All you do is decide on what you want to order and then call the merchant at the given number. They deliver all the items at your house within a couple of hours. It uses the idea of "Cash on Delivery" i.e., you make your payment in-person to the delivery person. This method has been in practice for so many years that customers are quite used to the entire process and the merchants make sure that the delivery is processed as comfortably as possible.
Growing up, mom went grocery shopping once every 2 weeks. We'd load up 2 or 3 shopping carts that filled 8 or 10 grocery bags.
One auto trip every 2 weeks for groceries.
With all the delivery services for restaurants, groceries, and more and more sundries, the trips to my house are made for less and less 'stuff' per trip. More trips per household obviously means more gasoline burned.
With Amazon or FedEx, at least it's a truck on a route with several dozen deliveries to make. But this Uber/Lyft scheme looks to likely be 1, maybe 2, deliveries per trip.
Unless you've grown them yourself, canned tomatoes will generally make a tastier pasta sauce than their fresh counterparts.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana#Storage_and_transport (too brief though)
In the past, people actually didn't go grocery shopping all winter. They didn't just eat dry beans, the entire world of cuisine exists because people are always finding ways to eat around the constraints of their growing season.
If within walking/cycling distance your habits change quite a bit.
Apparently the grocery shopping habits of UK/European consumers is considerably different than North Americans and so something that works in one market doesn't necessarily translate across the Atlantic.
In the UK, my old supermarket had a couple of aisles of prepared chilled meals. Lots of variety, and a lot of it was pretty good quality. You just don't get that in North America, and apparently it's because NA consumers tend to go to the grocery store once per week, where in the UK it's multiple times per week. So over here the convenience meals are frozen and icky. Blurgh!
Similarly, I could imagine the economics of delivery would be vastly different. The UK has tightly packed cities with high population density, meaning your delivery vehicles don't have far to go between stops. NA has large spread out suburbs with lots of driving to get anywhere...
For you maybe there is no difference between having time and desire to prepare food and having willingness to go to the site, but you aren't the whole market.
Outside of the multitude of 'walmart' farmers' stories, I remember rather recently reading of a lady who made salsa, who made cents per jar sold on an item that cost a few dollars to the consumer.
This means there is heavy markup at someplace, which I suspect is at the distribution and delivery. It was evident to me when, to make a pizza of high quality with many toppings, it ended up costing me more than even the local chains charged (greatly reducing the 'economy of scale'). There are billionaires in this particular realm, Walton's excluded, see Richard Cohen.
This also makes me wonder if then, distributors like C&S, Sysco, or Gordon Food Service would get into the personal delivery game. In the end, it seems rather silly to deliver goods twice.
Overall it is a challenge for a parent though, so I'm not convinced that many won't just stay at home and order food from an app with the kids watching TV.
I guess most people using the service order groceries at the office and pick them up on the drive home.
I'm not in their target demo because I don't have kids and my life isn't that busy, but i've been surprised at how busy the designated parking spots seem to be whenever I go to one of their stores. I've just checked their website and there are no fees for using their service as long as you spend $30.
You become much more financially responsible and less likely to pay for luxury services (for yourself) like HBO, Spotify, Netflix, Gym membership, high lease car payment etc after you have kids.
The local Walmart here experimented with something similar a few years ago, not using Uber but using customers at the store. Shoppers could get store credit in exchange for delivering orders on their way home. They don't do it anymore so it must not have worked well.
I've got a ton more options on how to procure food.
I think grocery and other same-day retail delivery is going to be huge, even if it seems a little weird and unnecessary at first.
It's common here (a poor part of the UK) for people to take a taxi home from the supermarket. So I can see it could work if all the supermarket's didn't already do delivery as they do here.
Imagine just going to the grocery store drive-through and picking up your groceries that you've chosen beforehand.
How long until you can get a freight van through uber's subprime leasing program?
Although I don't think it will viable at first, so I doubt that market will really grow, since the economies of scale only happen if enough people shop online in a small region. Ultimately companies like Walmart still want customers to roam in their supermarkets to buy things they did intend to, as a virtual store and online ads seems less appealing than a customer just wandering in an aisle and discovering an article.
That's not to say either Amazon or Walmart is moral. It's more that because Walmart has a greater dependency on the commons around me and I believe its interests and mine are less orthogonal.
Walmart's business model depends on state and federal government assistance to their low-paid workers:
It is true that Walmart brings in local revenues through sales and property taxes, however this is more than offset by the assistance state and federal governments have to provide to low-wage Walmart workers:
> Of the 50 companies with the most employees on Medicaid in Massachusetts, almost half are retail and restaurant chains. The list includes CVS, Home Depot, May Department Stores, Sears, Kohl’s, Walgreen, Lowe’s, and Best Buy.
> Similar data was recently released by Wisconsin, Missouri, and New Jersey. Topping all three states’ lists are many of the same retailers, including Walmart, Target, Dollar General, and Home Depot, as well as restaurant chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
It doesn't seem exactly fair to do it based on total number of employees though. What about percentage of employees? Looking at the Missouri (state health care) data, Walmart is at about double the rate as Target, it has:
Walmart work force: 43,281
Walmart MHN Enrolled employees (E): 2403
Walmart MHN Enrolled family members (N): 3633
Walmart total employees (E+N): 6036
Walmart Percentage of Missouri Workforce Enrolled(E) or Responsible for Enrollee (N) 13.95%
Target work force: 7,580
Target MHN Enrolled employees (E): 282
Target MHN Enrolled family members (N): 317
Target total employees (E+N): 599
Target Percentage of Missouri Workforce Enrolled(E) or Responsible for Enrollee (N) 7.9%
But being paid $11/hour still means that at the workers with dependent children will still be on Medicai and other public programs.
Very few unskilled jobs pay enough that a single mom is not going to qualify for benefits, so these stats probably reflect more than anything who the company hires or retains. If they hire lots of single moms, they will be lots of employees collecting benefits. If they hire more men, older people or younger people, they will not.
That's a moving target with software in the economic picture now.
We know about the "That isn't AI" effect. Each incremental advance coming out of AI research or just software in general is countered with a problem domain the advance doesn't address, and the advance is dismissed as not really ground-breaking. This effect is commonly seen in action with traditional games (checkers, chess, Go, etc.), but I see it with all sorts of automation.
I posit there is a converse rule: every incremental gain (which admittedly are infinitesimal steps towards AGI/strong AI) has the potential to move the goalposts of what constitutes an "unskilled job".
We often fail to recognize this because the incrementalism's effect upon jobs is not nearly as dramatic as what we today imagine the transition from horses to cars to be (when in fact it was quite incremental back then as well). There aren't as many checkout cashiers as before due to software- and infrastructure-enhanced advances (bar codes and their scanners, supply chain management, etc.*), but because checkout cashiers aren't completely gone yet we don't viscerally perceive the economic effects. What used to be a skilled job is now classified as unskilled however, so the economic impact is huge.
I contend we don't need AGI for massive automation-originated social disruption. If someone produces software that roughly approximates the reasoning abilities and kinesthesia of a 7-11th grader, then that is the majority of people in the developed world, not to speak of the developing world. That developmental range is roughly equivalent to what the mainstream media content targets in the developed world. We'll see continuous, smaller disruptions far before that point, though it is an open research question if we will get there in the near future. For example, we still don't have a general software solution to a task as "simple" as folding clothes, sheets and towels grabbed at random from a dryer.
Hate the game, not the player.
With that said, it's certainly possible to run a retail store without totally screwing your employees. Costco is extremely profitable despite providing very high wages and good benefits, far better than Walmart's warehouse-club subsidiary Sams Club. At the end of the day Walmart is still making a choice to screw over their employees just because they can get away with it, regardless of if everyone else is doing it. Tu quoque is not a good defense.
Here's the page for "pork": http://www.costco.com/pork.html The least expensive item [in my browser] is ten pounds of bacon $6.50 per pound. A cash flow that allows allocating $19 to toilet paper is necessary to shop at Costco: http://www.costco.com/toilet-paper.html
The $100 shopping cart doesn't contain the diversity to cover fairly basic human needs, even ignoring the membership fee [I see $55 today].
If they're lobbying for higher minimum wage when they don't already pay a higher wage themselves then it seems their motives are malicious. It's not something that reflects well on them anyhow.
My impression is that when journalists muckrake contract labor, healthcare access gets lumped in with employment instability and attempts at assigning responsibility to the big brand for the effects of outsourcing to the lowest bidder.
I think you're missing the nuance between "Walmart should leave," and "Walmart shouldn't have come."
Of course, we can only act on the future, so maybe the nuance is meaningless at this point.
But when working at static points(as with the kiva robots), there's no reason why they won't provide fans, at least.
I order avocados from instacart: They're all black on the inside when I cut into them.
I order specialty chips or cheeses? They're marked as "Item out of stock," but when I run to the same grocery store that they shopped at after my delivery it's right there in plain sight to me.
I order deli meat from Instacart? They ignore my comments about how I would like it to be sliced and deliver it to me shredded.
Outside of that? I love instacart -- as long as they're packaged goods (pick and ship) and they're not hot deli items or cold/frozen items (I've had drivers put yogurt in the same bag as a lot of frozen veggies and peas and stuff that shouldn't have been frozen was frozen.)
I don't trust anyone to pick out produce. So I have to go buy it. So it's not worth it to me to buy groceries online because I would only be buying non-produce.
I do however buy some things on Amazon that otherwise we might buy in the grocery store, like diapers.
(I'm willing to believe that Instacart + Whole Foods, for example, is a better overall experience--for a premium. But it's not available where I live.)
My speculation is that the reason is some combination of "I want to look at the produce," "I don't want to pay $10 for delivery," "I'm just not organized enough to sit down at my computer and input my order," and "I've always just gone to the grocery store."
Personally, I find Walmart to be a mediocre grocery store that I only go to because it's convenient. Given the other options that already exist for me, I would have pretty much zero interest in getting delivery from Walmart. I'd be using Peapod if I wanted it.
First of all, pretty much every single time, I was missing items!
Secondly, navigating the online store is a horrible experience. Finding things, thinking of what you need. The whole thing stinks.
The experience of walking down an isle and picking out what you need, is strangely more efficient.
I've used it a few times with grocery delivery.
"You put in the weight and dimensions of the object to be transported, and we'll give you pricing and an ETA for pickup and delivery"
People could then choose to do the delivery similar to how they choose to pick people up. Perhaps there's a premium (similar to surge pricing?) based on size.
(Disclosure: I work on the Uber API team.)
Which whatever anyone wants to say about Walmart's reputation, it's pointless to offer the service if they let it suck.