retail news in context, analysis with attitude

TheNetWeb reports that Costco has been added to the list of retailers served by Instacart, a grocery delivery service in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Costco joins Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods on the Instacart service, which employs some 150 personal shoppers to save people the trouble of actually doing their own food shopping. The Instacart model does not have any formal connection to the retailers, but rather serves as an agent for the shopper; this means that in the case of Costco, shoppers do have have to be Costco members - it is enough that Instacart is.

On its website, Instacart says that it is available in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View and parts of Sunnyvale," and is "expanding quickly into other areas"; offers delivery in as little as one hour after an order is placed, and as long as seven days in the future, if preferred by the shopper, with text messages being sent to customers once the exact time of arrival is determined; with pricing that varies depending on the size of the order, the lowest being $3.99 for orders over $35 with 2 hour delivery.

The story on TheNetWeb says that Costco, for the time being, is something of an exception to the rules - it is only available to San Francisco residents, and the lowest fee for delivery is $9.99.
KC's View:
No idea if this can work and make money, or whether it is yet another example of a personal shopping service with bigger dreams than customer counts.

But I do think that eventually someone is going to figure out how to make this concept viable and profitable, and retailers that are not in this segment of the business sought to be thinking about how they can bring some innovative thinking to the problem, and maybe make themselves more relevant to a changing consumer population.