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The Fairfield Citizen reports that Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop has signed a deal with Instacart "for what it calls Stop & Shop Express: shoppers with an Instacart Express membership, along with a $10 minimum order and a $2.99 delivery fee, can get Stop & Shop orders delivered in as fast as 30 minutes

"There is no limit on the amount of groceries consumers can order via Stop & Shop Express. And they also can shop from the more than 30,000 convenience items including prepared foods, snacks, beverages, paper goods, cleaners and baby products when ordering via Stop & Shop Express."  The service will be available seven days a week, the story says, at any hour of the day that local Stop & Shop stores are open.

Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop. said “customers’ lives are busier than ever, and this service will help make things easier for them.”

KC's View:

What he neglects to say is that isn't exactly an original idea.  Twice in the past few weeks, virtually the same announcement has been made - first for Kroger, and then for The Giant Company of Carlisle, Pennsylvania (also owned by Ahold Delhaize).

In other words, this isn't a differentiated idea because Instacart seems to be out there peddling it to everybody.

Now, one might argue that Stop & Shop doesn't compete with Kroger, so does it really matter?  But let's remember that it was just a couple of days ago that Kroger announced that it is coming to the northeastern US with a pure-play e-commerce model, which potentially puts it in direct competition with Stop & Shop.

So much for being differentiated.

Let me reiterate something I said when the Giant 30-minute deal was announced.

Stop & Shop did have a differentiated offering.  Peapod.  And yet, it continues to do business with Instacart in what appears to be an ongoing effort to commoditize its own e-commerce option.

Give Instacart credit.  It keeps making inroads in terms of getting bigger and bigger pieces of its retail clients' business, and somehow manages to persuade them that this will be good for them long-term.

And those clients keep handing over pieces of their business to Instacart, along with customer information, and giving up important elements of the customer experience while diluting their ability to differentiate themselves.

I think 30-minute delivery is a smart offering, especially because it raises the stakes in the battle against Amazon at a time when that company's Whole Foods division is raising the price on deliveries.

But at what cost?