retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Publix is expanding the use of third-party delivery service Shipt, bringing it to the Orlando market on September 5. This follows an initial launch in the Tampa market earlier this month.

The Shipt service - which Publix stresses it is not affiliated with and in which it has no ownership position - "allows customers to pay a $99-a-year membership and get free delivery on orders of more than $35," the story notes, pointing out that "groceries are more expensive through the service, about $5 more on an order of $35, according to Shipt's website."

Shipt has said that while it is working with Publix to start with, it reserves the right to work with other local retailers in the future.

The story goes on: "Shipt is part of the new wave of independent-contractor businesses, following along with Uber, Lyft and Orlando-based Doorstep Delivery. Contractors use their own vehicles and are not employees of the company.

"Shipt says it is recruiting drivers in the Orlando, Kissimmee and Sanford areas."
KC's View:
I continue to believe that this is a dangerous road to travel ... that to outsource so much of the customer experience to a third party, and then to allow that company to actually raise your prices, is to risk your brand equity. I know it is attractive to find a solution in which you have no financial skin in the game, but in the end, you actually have the most important skin in the game ... your image. It is risky to allow someone else to define it.