Our regional grocery store has just launched on-line shopping, and done so in a big way.  Each of the stores has hired several full-time people to pluck things from the aisles to fulfill electronic orders.  Customers can schedule pick-up times or delivery.  Elsewhere, Twitter ads are looking for “an amazing team” to shop for or deliver groceries for instacart.com in Minneapolis. Suddenly, it seems so “yesterday” to actually stroll through the grocery aisles and load up your own basket.

Has on-line grocery shopping finally reached a tipping point where it is common instead of a novelty?  If I listen to several of my colleagues, I would believe that it is.  They are walking commercials for the service, touting its convenience, savings from avoiding impulse/junk food buying, and ability to stay in the car with the kids.  And all this is before the weather even turns nasty!

I am delighted that many of my neighbors will be shopping from home.  It means less traffic in the store for me.  I want to be able to thump the watermelons myself.  I turn my nose up at lots of the produce, but load up on what looks good.  I want to be there to see if the pears are soft and the grapes are hard.  I want to look at the ham in the deli and pick up the bunch of flowers that is not yet fully blossomed.  I guess I am a visual shopper more so than an efficient one.

But how great is it that we have the option?  There will be a portion of the population that will love your organization if you can provide a more efficient service.  Another sub-set will want high touch.  Still others will favor the cheapest route, while a different group will place a premium on choice.  

The key is delivering good service: whether you deliver it in person, to your customer’s car or to their home.

— beth triplett

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