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The Almighty Buck

Step 2, Groceries 291

Posted by michael
from the step-3-profit dept.
prostoalex writes "Fortune magazine runs an article on New York - based FreshDirect, provider of high-quality groceries. Unlike Webvan, which failed with $1B of venture capital, FreshDirect seems to make pretty good money off online grocery sales - revenues of $225M are projected by 2004. The minimum order is set at $40, the company also charges $4 for delivery." If you want to check out their store, try zip code 10022.
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Step 2, Groceries

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  • by dameron (307970) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:21AM (#4689464) Homepage
    and begs the question: How can I get my product/service/ideology advertised on Slashdot for free?

    -dameron
    • And thus I begat the answer: Submit thy story.
      • Good point, except I very much doubt that the submitter has much to do with the company in question. If I'm not mistaken, he's Russian, I doubt he/she could even use the service, let alone be advertising it. (Although yes, of course, in these modern days with newfangled things like the Internet, geographical location has little to do with it).
        If things posted on /. had to go through a "does this have anything to do with a way in which someone could possibly make money" filter, I doubt there'd be much content.
        • by prostoalex (308614) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @05:18AM (#4689627) Homepage Journal
          Huh?

          I am the one who submitted this story, and you're correct about my Russian origin, although currently I live in WA state. Now, Slashdot lists me [slashdot.org], as submitter of 58 stories total. They're related to different events, as well as different companies, including Intel, Microsoft, Sony, etc. If all my postings went through some crooked schemes that included fat checks those companies sent me to submit stories to Slashdot, I'd have my own island.

          I learned about FreshDirect from Fortune magazine today and I cannot use, let alone have incentive to advertise, their service.

          • I wasn't trying to imply any personal gain for yourself, or any crooked schemes, quite the opposite. It was the "this is an advertisement" stance other ppl were posting from that I was going against.
            I found the article linked to very interesting, no doubt so did Michael, and thats why he posted your submission. Maybe those posting from the "Advertisement" stance hadn't actually followed the link..
            As an answer to the "how to I advertise my company on /." post, I'd say that the best way is to do something interesting enough to get a third party to write an article about it ;)
            • I can't even use their service - and I live in New York City!

              I had to look up an "Upper East Side" zip code in the phone book in order to check out their store.

              And what percentage of Slashdot readers actually live in the Upper East Side of Manhattan? A hundredth of a percent? I would guess that Fresh Direct lines up most of their customers in the "traditional" NYC manner: littering their delivery area with flyers.

              For all the stories that we post, there are so many which better fit the "advertisement" criteria - ones involving technology products that are available nationally, for instance.
    • Ingenious (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dsanfte (443781) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:36AM (#4689515) Journal
      Actually it's pretty smart. If it was just a popup add or banner, we could block it with an entry in our hosts file.

      Ad Placements^H^H^H^HStories are a little harder to block.

      Other news sites do this already, you just likely don't notice it. CNN does it all the time. I know CTV Newsnet in Canada does it on the air more than once per day.
    • well, the first step seems to be get your product/service/ideology featured in fortune

    • Who says they got this ad for free?
    • An article in fortune, with a 95% U.S. readership, is a lot more valuable then a Sunday morning article on an international geek site with arround 200,000 readers.
    • How can I get my product/service/ideology advertised on Slashdot for free?

      You click this link. [slashdot.org]

      -
  • by Crasoum (618885) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:27AM (#4689484) Journal
    That we are becoming more and more lazy. We can now order our groceries, work, and pay our bills all in front of our computer....

    Next thing you know we'll be able to order our dates online [singles-on...dating.com]

    • you think thats scary ?

      one word - decaf [freshdirect.com].
    • by Blaede (266638) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:34AM (#4689508)
      Many people don't own cars there, because of hard to find parking. And when you don't own a car, buying groceries in mass quantities is difficult, not to mention time consuming. Try doing YOUR grocery shopping without a car for the next month, let's see how you fare. Unless the store is literally within 4 blocks, you will find that carting 2 typical bags back to your house is a very time consuming chore. The fee this company charges is minor, especially in New York! I would kill for such a service here in Memphis. I currently am without a car. A backpack can only carry so many items. Like I say, try doing it without your car.
      • Many people don't own cars there, because of hard to find parking. And when you don't own a car, buying groceries in mass quantities is difficult, not to mention time consuming.

        Believe me, in New York, even when you DO have a car, you never use it because you don't want to lose your parking place.

        No, I'm not joking.
      • Car independant (Score:4, Informative)

        by decipher_saint (72686) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @05:44AM (#4689688) Homepage
        Ok, I'm legally blind, so I will never be able to drive, ever and I hate hearing people whine about how life is impossible without a car. Ok now that that's out of the way, from the sounds of things all you've tried is nothin' and you're all out of ideas. Have you considered:

        -A taxi cab?
        -Calling your friend for help?
        -Mass transit?
        -A bicycle with a rear storage bin?
        -Buying your groceries as you need them?

        For me a trip to the grocery store is almost a daily occurrance. If I can't walk or bike to where I want to go I get a bus, or if I'm in real need a taxi. Of course this means you have to keep a running inventory of your groceries so you know what you need before it runs out.

        My solution to this problem was to write a little app that allows me to record what I have and when it entered the system. From there I generate a report that I can print out for myself that includes information on useage frequency, average quantity purchased, average price, item importance and critical low stock notification. Yeah, I spend more time sorting my stuff when I get back from shopping, but I don't often run out of anything and the system was capable of supporting at least four people.

        New features I might add are an internet-based interface and WAP device capabilities so If anyone else goes to the store I can get a new report on my phone or before I leave work thru the net! (Also, since I buy a lot of the same products over and over I could monkey around with a barcode reader maybe).

        So to sum all this junk up:
        Just because you don't have a car doesen't mean you aren't allowed to use your brain to solve a problem :-D
        • Re:Car independant (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Blaede (266638)
          Taxi? That would entail a $10 fare, plus a tip. While my grocery stocking trip would only be a once a month activity, you can see where FreshDirect would be not only 1) cheaper and 2) use less of my time. If the delivery fee is a paltry $4 in high priced NYC, imagine how much lower it would be here in Memphis? I have no idea on what the local cab companies here think of carting a guy with 8 paper bags or groceries back to his place is. The oly time I've used cabs is for trips to the airport and bus terminal, and for being carted back home after wisdom tooth extraction.

          Friends? I would never impose on anybody for helping out with things like this, especially when I am able bodied. If I needed a large object moved, found it crucial for someone to assist me taking an arrow out of my arm, etc., then I'd call on friends. But for this, this is only robbing them of their time. What kind of a friend would I be then? And no, I never drive other people cars, especially for my benefit.

          Mass transit? "Luckily", there's a bus that travels in a direct route from Kroger to my apartment. Unfortunately it does this only twice a day, during working hours. Not only would I have to take much time, now losing income is factored in. Plus, a bus ride here costs 1/3 of what FreshDirect is charging in NYC. And even if I did take the bus, 2 paper bags (and a backpack's worth) would be my encumbrage limit.

          Bicycle? I'd been using my bike for this for 2 years, until just recently someone felt they needed it's rear wheel more than I did (yes, I'll lock that wheel as well next time). Truthfully, I enjoyed the biking, as I could get exercise AND quicky get the food. I've been investigating adding such a basket to my bike.

          Buying as I need? That would just rob me of time. It would be more efficient fiscally for me to work more to pay the minor delivery fee than to spend time going back and forth just for sustenance. Not to mention the added cost of buying the smallest portion for items. One example is sugar. I'll buy a 10 lb bag. Now that will take me 3 months to use (I love lemonade).

          It's not the effort that is my problem. I'm not slothful. But food gathering should not take 7 hours of my life each week, as one poster above thinks it should. When I had my car, this was an activity that I did monthly, and it took 1 hour, at the most, WHILE waiting for clothes to dry at the laundry. Even then, I'd still ride my bike for the perishables that would not keep for a month and had to be bought fresh.

          I've done the logistical math. For my particular situation, a service like FreshDirect would be great for me, not because I'm lazy, but it would cut this chore to a mere fraction of the time it would take me now, given my current vehicle situation and location to the store. And like I said, if it costs $4 in NYC, it'll probably be $3 here in Memphis.
          • Somebody mod this guy up, please?
            While I disagree with him on some points, his post is thoughtful and well argued.
            Definitely worth more than a +1!
          • Actually, it'll probably be $4 in Memphis, just because that's their rate. They'll just have a higher profit on it.

            By the way, you might want to check out Schwans [schwans.com] which does grocery delivery here in Memphis. It might not suffice for all of your needs, but it might cut down on the amount of items you have to carry on the bus.

            Just trying to help.

            -9mm-
        • [laughing] Sounds like when I was in college -- only had a bicycle for transportation. A person can get right creative about how to tote heavier loads. Ever try to carry a 50 lb. bag of dog food on a bike? Hint: it's ugly, but it can be done!!

          There are also nifty tow-carts for bikes, which I'd think would pretty much solve the size of load issue -- they'll hold about half the volume of a regular grocery cart. How much weight you can tow is your legs' problem. :)

          Anyway, as you say, there are workarounds, at least for relatively short distances and in urban areas. Tho I wouldn't want to be riding a bike to *my* nearest grocery -- that would be the Costco, at 15 miles away (and coming back is all uphill and against an average 35mph wind).

          • Ever been in Firenze?

            I saw a guy in a Vespa blast by me carrying a 27" television. I have no idea how he was doing it, but he had a precarious grasp on the box by the side, he was leaning, and still managed to be so accurate as to almost mow my American backpackin' tourist-ass over.
            • Nope, never been there.. what's a Vespa? one of those little scooterish things designed specifically for splitting tourists in half? :) But yeah, I've seen film from Europe where people on bicycles and scooters carry around the most amazing objects at appalling speeds. If your balance is good and there's a rest-point for the weight, it can be done (as my 50 lb. bags of dog food proved... can be carried across the handlebars or on the rear rack.)

      • by CrystalFalcon (233559) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @06:05AM (#4689741) Homepage
        The United States is _designed_ so you need a car to go shopping, which few exceptions (Manhattan being one of them). Where I have lived, I have always been able to get my groceries on foot, and we're not talking 7-11s here, we're talking real grocery stores.

        I have not only done my shopping without a car for a full month, but for, say, ten years. Sure, it's a ten-minute walk to the store. So what? It takes me longer to get to and from the garage anyway.

        The real killer is grocery stores in the subway stations, where you can pick your stuff up on your way from work without a minute of detour. I haven't used them, though, as I prefer to walk to a store, even if it's a mile or so away.
        • Extreme rural Mexico. Grocery time involved a 30 mile car trip (2 legs, in an "l" shaped path) to the city. Walking (or horse riding) a direct route via rough country with no traveled paths(probably 13 miles) was not an option. The coyotes, scorpions and rattlesnakes kinda have a way of putting a crimp into that.
      • As a student, I have to agree. People don't really realize what an auto-centric society America is until they have to cart things like vegetables home by hand.

        $4 for a delivery is a good deal. Yeah, it might suck for the "really poor", who can't even afford that, but it is a decent deal for those just above that who would prefer to pay for someone to deliver groceries once a week than have to arrange carrying home several tons of bulk foods from the local market.

        Incidentally, it looks as if the prices these guys charge beat those at my local Andronico's. Maybe this is because I live in California (where everything costs twice as much as anywhere else) but it means it's as cheap to buy from them as my nearest story.

        Come on guys, invest here. I'll buy in a jiffy!!!
      • Unless the store is literally within 4 blocks

        I have been wracking my brain, and I cannot think of a place in Manhattan where you are more than 4 blocks from a grocey store.

        More to the point, this service is really not in the best position. I'll use it, but I'm probably atypical. Almost every grocery store in Manhattan will deliver -- You can go, get your cart, wander around, squeeze the canteloupes, make impulse purchases, then when you check out, you just say "deliver this to 234 W 71st St. Apt 1A." Walk home without your 150 pounds of groceries, and still have them in about 60 to 90 minutes. Best of both worlds.

        I'm aware that the "people like physicality when purchasing" argument is a pretty tired one, but I think it applies to food, particularly.

        • I have been wracking my brain, and I cannot think of a place in Manhattan where you are more than 4 blocks from a grocey store.
          Well, if you include absurdly high-priced bodegas with terrible selection and no fresh stuff to speak of, then maybe. But otherwise . . .
          -the entirety of Manhattan east of Avenue B
          -most of Inwood (a few places here and there but terrible)
          -parts of Harlem (even C-Town has areas they won't cover)
          -the area around Wall Street (yep, quite a few people living there these days; they converted a bunch of old office buildings in the late 90's)
          -all those huge housing projects along the edge of the Loisada (such as the eastern edge of Confucius Park or whatever they call it now) and otherwise most of the eastern edge of the city starting north of South Street Seaport and south of 11th.
          -some stretches of Fifth Avenue (after all, 5th and Park forbid grocery stores and Madison is sketchy)

          In other words, the poorest sections, those with huge housing complexes (some quite middle class now), and the wealthiest areas when "esthetics" have won out.
          Of course with Chelsea Market, C-Town, and (ironically) the 131st Street Fairway, the blank spots have shrunk a lot but if you've got the flu, are older or infirm, or simply aren't up to a significant walk on a miserable winter/summer day, there are plenty of reasons that getting groceries could be a big deal.
          Also, keep in mind that for a lot of us we may be getting home at 2:00 in the morning for days or even weeks at a time. If Gristedes, Food Emporium, and Associated end their price/feature war (which is quite likely given what's happening to New York's economy and what happened to the CVS/Rite Aide/DuaneReade/Love Stores price war) then all the stores that have started having late night hours will probably stop doing so and we'll be thoroughly screwed. Much easier to shop online and just answer the door for the delivery person while getting dressed in the morning then to have to find shopping time during conventional hours.

          Frankly, for me, I'm all over the city anyway, always have a copious shoulder bag, and am used to carrying heavy loads. So I do my shopping mostly in Chinatown or on 32nd Street. But I remember my consulting days well and wish that this had been around then. I was very marginally involved in one of the online grocer attempts a while back (mostly not in the U.S.) and was very much hoping that they would get their act together.
          I'm thrilled to see the Fairway folk step in as (other than Western Beef) they are far and away the best at entering new markets with excellent quality, good prices, and superb selection. And, of course, how could I be unhappy to see somebody online actually turning a proper profit?
          Sitting here looking out at the cold, windy, rainy, dark Manhattan weather (with, by the way, dangerous levels of traffic and high speed drivers even on this, a Sunday afternoon) and wondering why people are having so much trouble understanding the viability of this,
          Rustin

    • Hey look man, I'm sorry. I'll try to not be supportive of these ideas. Because you are right, I do spend to much time infront of my computer.

      Then again I can't walk, or drive a car, I've been sitting on my ass literally since I was 8 years old. I guess I should find the "ability" in my "disability" like those happy happy ads keep telling me about.

      shit, I should stop being so lazy and get out of my wheelchair and go buy some groceries on my own two feet.

      --

      My apologies to no one in particular for the flame bait.
    • That we are becoming more and more lazy. We can now order our groceries, work, and pay our bills all in front of our computer....

      You're right, this is frightening. Because, of course, the acme of virtue is to put the maximum effort possible into one's grocery shopping and bill paying.

  • That's good and all, but I want to know what Phase 2 is.

    • Re:Step 2? (Score:3, Funny)

      by scott1853 (194884)
      Probably something novel like "Collect Money From Customers".

      Yahoo just realized that if they actually charge for their services, they make money.
  • by PopeAlien (164869) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:28AM (#4689490) Homepage Journal
    All of a sudden they have tons of potential new customers in area code 10022.. At least thats what the web log says.. Hope they aren't filling warehouses based on that info, or they could suffer the webvan fate.
  • fyi (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) <mrpuffypants@gma3.14159il.com minus pi> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:34AM (#4689510)
    newsweek had a similar story in last week's issue about more traditional brick 'n mortar grocery stores going online

    the thing with them, though, is that they already have a ton of locations and are in no rush to scale up their web orders: they already are in the black on the retail front and want to slowly and cautiously roll out the web strategy

    they also have an edge over the online start-ups through name recognition: it's a lot easier getting somebody who already shops at your store to try something new, rather than risk it on some company they've never heard of.

    i couldn't find the link at the Newsweek site, but the issue may still be on shelves at stores around the country until monday or tuesday
  • I've tried similar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acehole (174372) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:35AM (#4689511) Homepage
    I lived in Sydney, Australia, a couple of years ago. I tried a service called 'ShopFast'. It was the first time i'd used such a service, the main reason i was giving it a try was because i was too lazy to go and get groceries myself.

    After ordering and waiting a couple of days, It was delivered and what impressed me was that I could pay by EFTPOS by use of a mobile EFTPOS terminal.

    It was cheap, fast and I didnt have to go outside. Perfect for the geek that I am.

    • by jedrek (79264)
      After ordering and waiting a couple of days sorta contradicts It was cheap, fast and I didnt have to go outside.

      Don't get me wrong, when I order something like a TV or DVDs or whatever, I can wait the few days/weeks they take to deliver. On the other hand, when I'm ordering *food* I want it here within 2-3 hours, tops.
      • They had set delivery times. Could you imagine how many trucks and how big an operation they'd have to have to be able to service a city the size of Sydney?

        I think you're underestimating what it would take to be able to provide a service that delivers within 2 - 3 hrs. First where I was living, it was an hour from the centre of the city by car (Depending on the Traffic), then there's the actual packing of the groceries, you think it would be cheap if they had to drive across the other side of the city just to deliver to one person? They'd have to deliver to a fair few people just to cover the cost of transporting the goods. On that alone would blow out the delivery time.

        So there you go, a couple of days isnt long to wait.
      • I live in Sydney and use Shopfast regularly. It's great.

        I don't use it to order tonight's dinner. If I need a steak or a pound of mushrooms, I'll pick that up at the little supermarket on the way home.

        I do use it for all the bulky stuff I need to buy regularly, and things that last a long time. Tinned and frozen food, soft drinks and so on. They do deliver the same day - if you order by 10am they'll deliver any time after 5pm that day.

        If I need food in a hurry I dial out for pizza or Chinese. Different distribution structure.
  • Because I dont live in a HUGE city (NYC/LA), buying localized goods online is tough. I really wish that these kinds of companies would get more geographically diverse service, though I know its tough in such businesses.

    This especially rocks for 3 reasons:

    1) Shopping cart I can actually view things -- never forget something. If I do? Append it to the order!

    2) No more hunting for lost items -- Where Oh Where do they keep the spices? Just enter the spice name in search and click to add. I love this!

    3) Quick -- It's hard to multitask in the grocery store, Its much easier to shop while programming or doing non-productive things (like reading slashdot).

    Anyone who wouldent pay $4 for this is nuts, IMHO. All I can ask, is that one of these companies opens up a ROCHESTER NY branch :)
    • You can at least order your hot dogs [zweigles.com] online.

      Don't complain though, at least you have variety up there with Wegmans. I get to deal with a P&C store and they only carry the basics and the really weird stuff like canned calimari. So if I want anything more flavorful that spaghetti or hamburgers, I have to drive 25 minutes to a real grocery store.
  • by SlashChick (544252) <erica@NOspam.erica.biz> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:42AM (#4689537) Homepage Journal
    ...both Safeway [safeway.com] (might be IE-only) and Albertsons [albertsons.com] deliver groceries. Both charge a $9.95 delivery fee and deliver from local stores.

    I must admit, though, that I'd rather see a startup company doing this than the already-established grocery stores. I was a happy Webvan customer, and I still think the model is quite viable. (Plus, I love the FreshDirect site design.) Here's hoping FreshDirect or a similar company takes a stab at this here in the Bay Area!
    • I know, I live in San Francisco suburb. But I am not thrilled b/c
      -it is the same goddamn store and they have their rules about what brands / products they carry and they don't carry.

      - I would rather see another company (preferrably a startup) to thrive and get some copetition in the area (like Netflix & BlockBuster)

      - 10 bucks! Geez, that is steep. Around 5 bucks is okay.
    • by BrookHarty (9119) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @06:16AM (#4689762) Homepage Journal
      Theres also Schwans [schwans.com] they are all over, a few bucks more. They also have allot of butchers who will deliver meat if you buy in bulk, and its cheaper than the stores.

      Myself, I prefer costco(warehouse store). You buy in bulk, but the cost is about 30% cheaper than the stores. Buy an executive account, and you get 2% of your money back at the end of the year.

      An example, Milk is 3.60 at the normal store (3.99 online order), its 1.99 a gallon at the quickie mart, at costco its 2 for 2.70. I have a family of 6, and we drink almost a gallon of milk every 1-2 days, need to shop and save money.
      -
      Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised at how little you have. - Ernest Haskins
      • Costco also has a general product delivery program in some areas, and not just for bulk customers.

        I'm an Exec member myself, and it more than pays for itself. Plus there's the health issue: last week I needed something Costco didn't carry, so went into a regular grocery store for the first time in a couple years. I'm just not used to those high retail prices -- damn near gave me heart failure!!

        Another perk of buying perishables at Costco is that they're a lot fresher than what you can get in a regular grocery, so they keep longer. This especially applies to eggs and dairy products. (Frex, eggs can be as much as 3 MONTHS old by the time they even reach the average grocery's shelves. Costco eggs are no more than a couple days old -- and will easily keep for 4-6 months in your fridge.)

        They're finally building a Sam's Club in this area, so soon I'll have the best of both worlds :)

        • We also have a Sams club here, 25 bux a year for membership.
          The problem with Sams club is they seem to run out quicker of the basic's, (low inventory I think).. I think Sams club is bigger on the East cost, and expansion here is still new. Sams club had a bigger selection of munchies (chips/cheese puffs/snacks), which is good in some ways. (-:

          BTW, I didnt know that about the Eggs, need to check into that.
          • Where I grew up in Montana, most groceries bought eggs (and some veggies) from the local Hutterite colonies. The exception was Safeway, which got their eggs from big egg ranches via the company's internal supply chain. The difference in freshness was amazing. Also, I've kept chickens off and on, and when they lay more eggs than you can use so they sit around for a while, you learn to tell exactly how old an egg is, allowing for shell consistency and the like.

            I think Sam's does try to keep inventory more to what moves immediately, which in turn means they're more likely to run out. I've noticed that as well.

            I like having both, tho. What one hasn't, the other usually carries, and they keep each other honest in the price dept. :)

    • I used to use WebVan for all my shopping. After they died, I tried both Safeway.com and Albertsons.com.

      Both have horrible websites. I can't even use Safeway's, because they don't offer any information about the product other than name, size and price. No nutritional information, ingredients, description or picture.

      Albertson's is pretty bad too, but I used it for a while. Every order was screwed up in some way. Sometimes they'd leave items out (and still charge me), other times they'd deliver the wrong number of items or make stupid substitutions. Plus the Albertson's delivery people were not at all friendly. They were usually on-time though.

      WebVan screwed up from time to time, too (especially near the end of its life), but at least I wasn't paying a delivery charge. And if they forgot to deliver an item, they would sometimes drive back to my house and deliver it.

      It's obvious that neither Safeway and Albertson's are trying. I think they'll lose money, close their online shopping divisions and say that it just isn't possible for anyone to make any money doing it.
  • by breon.halling (235909) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:50AM (#4689554)

    ...and all those other failed dot-coms, here's a little burst of nostalgia for you. [disobey.com]

    It's an archive of screengrabs from a whole whack of sites that went belly up, including Webvan [disobey.com].

    You'll laugh. You'll cry. It's better than "Cats."

    • Want to hear something interesting?

      as a turkish citizen, I have never heard those "dead" dotcoms except 2 of them

      3dfx=my gfx cards maker
      alladvantage.com=damn spammer gang

      Isn't it interesting concept?
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:57AM (#4689578) Homepage
    What really makes this thing competitive is that it serves Manhattan, but it's in Queens.

    Manhattan is a special case in the US. Food is normally transported in semitrailers, but semitrailers are allowed in Manhattan only under severe restrictions. So stores in Manhattan need a distribution center somewhere nearby, where everything is transferred to smaller trucks.

    This outfit avoids that step, by putting their warehousing operation just outside Manhattan and filling customer's orders directly from it. That's a big win. But it doesn't have to compete with big supermarkets where semis pull up to the loading dock at night.

  • by aliens (90441) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @05:30AM (#4689652) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so I'm just a "Brand Ambassador" but I have been around the office and such. Their $50 free food promotion really catches people off guard. We really are just giving you $50 to try us free with no delivery charges.

    While there are brick and mortor grocery stores that delivery, I gotta say the food I've been picking up from the warehouse beats anything else. I guess there is some truth in the fact that what they get does cut out the middleman making things fresher. The pastries are great. MMMmmmmm pastries, especially the fruit tart.

    Plus I like getting the already cooked meals by gourmet chefs at rather dirt cheap prices.

    Anyway, just thought some would like to know how the food is coming from there.

    Also we're rolling out very slowly, we're not trying to cover the entire city at once. This was Kosmo's mistake as well as Peapods. It looks like we'll be doing well in the future, just wish it was going to be publicly traded. Oh well, I'll settle for the food I've been getting.
  • I wonder if I can start up an escort service named FreshMeatDirect without being sued...
  • UK (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JimmyGulp (60100)
    We've had online stores in the uk for about a year now, maybe 18months. Initially, I think Tesco [tesco.com] started off with a home delivery service, and its still going strong.

    Later, other large stores have joined in the fun, incluing Asda [adsa.com] (recently bought by WalMart), Sainsburys [sainsburys.com], and others (that I can't think of right now).

    So really, I don't see how this is news for everyone.
  • For the last two years I lived in Toronto and enjoyed grocery deliveries by Grocery Gateway [grocerygateway.com]. They serve the whole Greater Toronto Area, have a similar minimum order requirement (C$60), and charge a delivery fee of up to $8 depending when you schedule your delivery.

    The selection was incredibly good, the food was always fresh, and I was quite pleased with their customer service.

    It goes to show you that you can, indeed, be successful selling groceries online, if you play your cards right [grocerygateway.com]...
  • Common in the UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by veg (76076) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @05:59AM (#4689729) Homepage Journal
    In the UK most of the major supermarkets have internet shopping. For 5 quid you get it delivered to your door in a refrigerated van.

    Despite how cool this whole idea sounds, we still trudge down to the actual store, pick the stuff by hand and get a cab back (which costs about 4 quid).

    Why ? Well we tried it several times from different supermarkets and each time something was wrong - things missing, food with a same-day sell-by date and the van turning up hours late...a right bugger if you were staying in to wait for it. The missing items were either just missing or marked "out of stock". We refuse to believe that the supermarket has run out of bread and bananas.

    So we'd have to go to the shops anyway to pick up the missing stuff anyway.

    Also, they will select replacement items if something is out of stock if you wish. However the selection is usually made by the store surrealist and not too helpful. Sorry, we're out of cheese, so we have selected some curry powder and a mop as a replacement.
  • tesco.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tet (2721) <[slashdot] [at] [astradyne.co.uk]> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @06:05AM (#4689743) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised no one's mentioned tesco.com yet. It's the world's largest online grocery delivery service, with revenues of over $560m last year, and it's running an operating profit. They've just started expanding out of the UK and have launched in the US in a partnership with Safeway. The unique thing about them is that rather than have a huge distribution centre somewhere, they make use of their existing bricks and mortar infrastructure. When you place an order, it gets sent through to your nearest store where a member of staff goes and picks it off the shelf for you, and it's delivered the next day (within a 2 hour timeslot you request, too). I've been using them for a while now, and have few complaints (other than a few IE-isms on the web site).
    • Hannaford's Homeruns service was supposedly doing the same in the Boston area. Hannaford is a retail, brick and mortar grocery store operation, though I never saw their stores in the Boston area, their trucks used to be everywhere - apparently their stores are all out in the suburbs, not near Boston-proper. They did next day delivery, had minimum order charges and delivery charges. I don't know what happened but perhaps if they had a retail operation closer to Boston where their delivery service operation flourished they would have done better. Hannaford [hannaford.com] is still around and has something like 30-40 grocery stores in New England, but homeruns.com is defunct. Boston has no more delivery services that I know of. I really miss getting my fucking videos and pr0n delivered within an hour by whatsitcalled. Fuck. The name has even faded from my mind. Oh well. Time to haul ass over to the store again.
  • by oob (131174)
    Tesco UK [tesco.com] have an ordering site optimised for PDAs and other small screen devices.

    It's so easy to walk into the kitchen and see what I need, then order with an 802.11b enabled PDA.
  • Walmart is killing all the grocers. It is inevitable, that all but the specialized niche players will fall to the retailing king.

    Walmart's super stores will put them all outta business, even the delivery guys because as soon as WMT enters that business (which they may be already doing in some markets --- anybody know?), it'll be another slaying with Walmart out as king.

    • by DennyK (308810) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @07:02AM (#4689856)
      I do all my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart these days. It's a little farther to drive than the other stores, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper. The same stuff (almost literally, same brands and all) that costs $100 at Publix costs about $70-75 at Wal. Winn-Dixie is closer to Wal's prices, with the "value card" (yeah, yeah, privacy, blah, blah...but they don't do address verification, you just fill out the sheet and get your card right there, so as far as they're concerned, I'm Joe Smith from 123 Main St. in Boise, Idaho... ;) ) but it takes twice as long to shop there since half their inventory is a week past the expiration date (I swear to God one of their salamis tried to bite me once. Luckily it hadn't managed to grow any teeth. Yet...) Wal's also open 24 hours, which is nice for a night owl like me. Only downside is the aisles are crammed with pallets and carts of inventory at that time of night, so it can be rather hard to navigate...I had to walk half the length of the store one time when I found myself on the wrong side of the aisle and every space between the middle islands was blocked by pallets...

      The other downside to Wal-Mart is their selection is somewhat limited, but they usually carry everything I'm looking for, so it's not a big deal for me. Oh, and they can't sell beer after midnight. Damn blue laws...

      DennyK

      • Oh, poor you, no grocery store alchohol after midnight. In Maryland, they can't sell it at all. Want to cook with some wine (no, not the salt solution passed off as "cooking wine", the real stuff)? That'd be a separate stop at the liquor store, then.

        On the upside, Metro is open 24-7, Giant is open almost-24-7 (they close for a bit Sunday morning), and Mars and Han Ah Reum (which are the best for produce) are at least open until 10pm.

        I used to do my shopping at 1am, but I've found that as long as you don't do something crazy like visit an Asian supermarket on a Sunday afternoon, and generally avoid rush hour shopping, it's not bad at all.

        I'd also much rather shop at a locally owned and run business like Mars than a massive soul-eating entity such as Wal-Mart. I save money by buying fresh food and cooking it myself. It takes more time than getting TV dinners, Stouffer's, or whatever, but I get enjoyment out of cooking, and it tastes better.

        This is actually what concerns me the most about online shopping: produce quality. There are always a few rejects in the bin, and I wonder whether they'll use them or not. If I go to the store and the broccoli is just OK, I'll revise my dinner plans for that night. If I click on "order" beneath a picture of perfect broccoli and it shows up wilted, I'm stuck.

  • Oh my GOD! We have a huge influx of people in the 10022 zip code. We need to double our infractruscture there.

    Six months later: You're fired! The sales never panned out.
  • Oh well. (Score:2, Informative)

    by jotaeleemeese (303437)
    In the UK this has been happening for the best part of the last two years.

    Unsurprisingly it is big stablished companies who have been providing this service. It took them a while to realize why this is good, but when they finally got around it they got it right.
  • UK situation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mccalli (323026) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @07:33AM (#4689918) Homepage
    Genuine question here, as I don't know the answer. In the UK, it's the norm for supermarkets to offer online shopping. Places like Tescos [tesco.com], Sainsbury's [sainsbury.co.uk], Waitrose [waitrose.com] etc. do a reasonable business from it, with Tesco's being the most successful. I use the Tesco service regularly in fact.

    Is that not the case in the US? Don't the main supermarkets do this as standard?

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • MN has SimonDelivers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yort (555166) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @08:34AM (#4690034)
    I haven't used it myself, but I've heard of many people here in MN (Minneapolis/St. Paul) who love SimonDelivers [simondelivers.com], which has no delivery fee for orders above $80, otherwise $2.95. I don't know their financials, but they seem to be doing ok, and I certainly see their trucks all over the place!

    Troy

    • by JHMirage (570086)
      As someone who has used them for several months now, I can say that our family has been very happy with the service. We did some fairly in-depth comparison shopping when we first looked into signing up, and were amazed that prices were generally within pennies of brick-and-mortar stores on all items we looked at. (Even in many cases when compared to sale prices.)

      I'm not looking to turn this into a sales pitch... it's just pretty amazing to me that they've been able to keep that up. According to a section of the FAQ, they started in April of 1999. Is there really that much investment in infrastructure in conventional grocery stores that a company like SimonDelivers can afford to replace it with a fleet of vans and a high-tech warehousing system and still charge (virtually) no delivery fee.

      More to the point, why couldn't Webvan, then?

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @08:42AM (#4690048) Homepage
    We, here in Istanbul/Turkey have an online grocery for 4 years!

    Its Koc holdings "migros" grocery (joint venture with swiss migros) and works well, they even deliver stuff 2-3 hours later, WITHOUT any fee.

    http://online.migros.com.tr/index_sanal.html (in turkish)

    Also they use those cool GSM credit card machines so you don't have to give your CC over the net.

    I don't understand the big deal. I mean, if it was a VRML or VR shop you bought stuff by actually walking around on browser (yes a UK company exist), it would be big news, but whats the deal with this one?

  • It pisses me off in the worst way that WebVan got a billion dollars to last what, a couple years?

    And companies today that were around before the boom, and are still around today, have nightmares trying to get small reinvestments and loans cuz they're the dreaded "IT COMPANIES".

    Way to go on making it work FreshDirect.

  • thousands of home-bound people starve to death as we slashdot the FreshDirect server into oblivion.
  • Here in Chitown, we are served by the magic of Peapod [peadpod.com]. Having groceries delivered directly to my apartment has literally changed my life in the city. Not having a car meant that I had to schlep my groceries by hand from the nearest store (about 3/4 mile--it's a lot when you've got arms full of bags) or use mass transit. It also meant that I could never buy more than about 5 days worth of food--simply because that's all I could carry.

    To all the naysayers out there that say "Eh, you lazy fuck, I can't believe you have your groceries delivered" I have this to say: screw you. I cook almost every night and having to carry food by hand across the city or rely on a friend with a car is simply out of the question. A bi-monthly peapod delivery makes sure that I don't have to worry about running out of food.

    Before I signed up, I held on to my receipts from the grocery stores around town to compare. The prices are no more expensive than any other store, and sometimes cheaper. As long as I order $100 or more, delivery is $5 (plus a tip to guy that hauls my food up 2 flights of stairs). All non-perishable goods are stored in their warehouses (which is how the keep overhead low, methinks) but all fresh foods are picked up from local markets and suppliers to area restaurants.

    Peapod rocks. Having your groceries delivered to your house/apartment ROCKS. Shopping for groceries in my PJ's from my home ROCKS.
  • Jesus, think about the restructuring that will surely befall the Underpants Gnomes now! Now that step 2 has been revealed, we see a twisted chain of events that includes, incredulously, food and kid's hanes - together. I forsee massive underpants gnome layoffs in the near future as the public gets wise to their filthy brand of food degredation.
  • Some poeple in my state use one if the Kroger chains. They've been filling web orders for years. Not as much variety as webvan. But they already had the infrastructure.
  • What kinda of monitors are they using?

    The ISP I work for bought up Webvan's monitors in a bulk purchase - almost all of the screens in the developer and tech support departments have a metal Webvan asset tag on the front. I'm hoping this new company gets some big LCD screens.

    --
    Evan

  • Revenues of $225M doesn't say anything about profit. That's great they're bringing in money, but let's see some profit before we start jumping on their bandwagon.
  • I live in lower Manhattan. The grocery stores down here are horrendous! We were one of the first neighborhoods they delivered to. The first order had a $50 credit. My bill for the first order came out to $1 (i went over). On the second order I had a credit for $25 and still free delivery.

    Since then, I have used them about 10 times, and so far it has been good. The prices are the same that you would see in a large grocery store in the suburbs. The only problem I have seen is that they don't carry a lot of grocery items i like. They specialize in fresh foods. Since I am not a gourmet chef, I tend to buy the easy to cook items.

    I am just happy that I don't have to shop at Gristedes anymore. The thing that bothers me about NYC is that every deli/grocery store claims they are 'gourmet' you'll see the dirtiest slop whole of a store (gristedes) and they will carry 40 different cheeses, 40 different olive oils and nothing else!

    I will continue to support fresh direct, but I am skeptical that they will not stay in business. Or if they do, they will raise prices to the NYC going rate which is extortion.

    Anyhow, if you are in one of there delivering zip codes (if you are you surely have heard of them) I highly recommend trying them. The delivery people are very nice, and they actually do not accept tips.

    In a city like NYC where customer service is second rate, it is nice to see a company like them come around.

    Notice: I do not have any relationship with the company; I am merely a new resident of NYC that believes buying groceries for a reasonable price should be a right for everyone.

  • by sparkz (146432)
    Tesco.com have been doing this for years in the UK - with no venture capital, and using existing stores instead of specialised warehouses, are the biggest .COM in Europe - they have survived the .COM boom with no hype or fanfare.

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