Retailers around the country rushed to build out grocery pickup and delivery capabilities after the acquisition of Whole Foods Market by Amazon in the summer of 2017.
Many companies partnered with Instacart, while several — particularly Walmart and Kroger — invested in their own infrastructure.
Profitability with online orders is still a challenge. Kroger has committed to build 20 automated fulfillment centers to drive cost out of the equation.
All in all, grocery delivery and fulfillment went mainstream in 2018, and Nielsen projected 70% of people will buy groceries online by 2024.
The following timeline is a sampling of Produce Retailer's coverage of this topic, with higher-profile stories prioritized.
Instacart lowers grocery delivery fee
By Ashley Nickle — Dec. 3
Shoppers can now have their groceries delivered by Instacart for $3.99 per order instead of $5.99.
The company also cut the price of its Express membership — unlimited use of Instacart for orders $35 and more — from $149 a year to $99 a year.
Kroger investing $55 million to build its first robot-run fulfillment center
By Ashley Nickle
Nov. 19 — Monroe, Ohio, will be the site of the first automated grocery fulfillment center for Kroger.
The retailer has partnered with Ocado, an online-only retailer based in the United Kingdom, to grow its online grocery capabilities with a network of robot-run facilities.
Kroger plans to open 20 such fulfillment centers in the coming years, according to a news release.
The retailer is investing $55 million to build the first center, which will be 335,000 square feet.
Albertsons to pilot automated fulfillment center
By Ashley Nickle — Nov. 2
LAS VEGAS — Albertsons Cos. has partnered with Takeoff Technologies to test a micro-fulfillment center in one of its stores.
Narayan Iyengar, senior vice president of digital and e-commerce, discussed the pilot Oct. 30 at new industry event Groceryshop.
“We expect to be able to dramatically drive down pick costs, and then you bolt that up with efficient routing of trucks, we’ll be able to dramatically drive down our pick and delivery costs in a way that makes sense for our customers,” Iyengar said.
Walmart building high-tech DC for fresh, frozen groceries
By Ashley Nickle — Oct. 25
Walmart will soon break ground on its first highly automated distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries, and it expects product quality will improve as a result.
The distribution center will move 40% more product than a traditional model, and the new technology stacking boxes and building pallets is sensitive enough to take proper care of delicate produce items like strawberries, according to a news release.
Instacart plans more expansion after investment
By Ashley Nickle — Oct. 17
Grocery delivery service Instacart raised $600 million in its latest funding round, led by D1 Capital.
The company is now valued at $7.6 billion and plans to use the investment to continue growing, according to a news release. Instacart will spend more on marketing in stores and expects to bring on high-level engineers and product development personnel.
Kroger, Instacart significantly expand partnership
By Ashley Nickle — Sept. 4
Instacart grocery delivery will soon be available from more than 1,600 Kroger stores.
By late October, shoppers in 75 more markets will have access to the same-day service, according to a news release. New markets include Atlanta, Nashville, Augusta, Knoxville, Little Rock, Memphis and others.
H-E-B buys delivery provider
By Produce Retailer Staff — February 15
San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Co. is the latest retailer to ramp up delivery by purchasing a third party provider.
The company is reportedly buying Favor Delivery, an Austin-based app service that works with more than 50,000 third-party “runners,” delivering take-out from restaurants, groceries and more.