- Food 4 Less has partnered with Instacart to offer home delivery service at 129 locations in California, Illinois and Indiana, according to a company press release. Shoppers will be able to place orders for same-day delivery in as little as one hour.
- Portland, Oregon-based Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores has partnered with Shipt to offer same-day delivery in 15 markets throughout the Western and Northwestern U.S, according to a company press release.
- Delivery will launch in Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area as well as select cities in Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah. Smart Foodservice sells ingredients and supplies to restaurants, caterers and other foodservice businesses.
The grocery delivery arms race has gained momentum recently as same-day delivery has moved from large, national chains to regional and specialty grocers. The grocery industry's move into the food delivery space could threaten restaurants, especially as stores improve their prepared food offerings.
Food 4 Less parent company Kroger has been making big moves in the space. It recently started testing a 30-minute delivery service called Kroger Rush in the Cincinnati area for customers who live within three miles of two stores. Now, with grocery delivery available from Food 4 Less, Kroger can advance its e-commerce to more regions.
One of the interesting aspects of this move is that Food 4 Less is a no-frills, low-price banner, and the addition of grocery delivery shows just how important e-commerce has become across banners, demographics and geography.
For Smart Foodservice, adding same-day delivery will help the company better meet the demands of customers in an industry that may face last-minute menu changes, shortages and other factors. The company operates 67 warehouses in the Western U.S., and utilizing Shipt for delivery logistics will simplify its efforts.
Shipt has been growing in popularity among shoppers and retailers, topping Consumer Reports' first-ever ranking of grocery delivery services, including Instacart. Price was one of the key factors for survey takers, with Instacart, AmazonFresh and FreshDirect receiving low scores due to their subscription and grocery costs.
One key motive for retailers in adding delivery is holding their place against Walmart, which is on every grocers' radar. Its rapid expansion in grocery pickup and new unlimited grocery delivery plan could draw shoppers away from their traditional grocer if e-commerce isn't up to par. With a Walmart in nearly every major U.S. town, other retailers are beefing up their e-commerce options to prevent Walmart from taking over.
Retailers are also investing in high-tech delivery options, such as Kroger's partnership with autonomous vehicle company Nuro. But restaurants and third-party delivery platforms are beefing up their delivery tech, with Uber in discussions with Nuro as well. The encroachment of smaller regional chains could be a greater threat to restaurants, however, as these markets becoming expansion targets for chains and aggregators that have previously focused on highly competitive urban cities.