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E-commerce operator shops farmers’ markets

Consumers can now get strawberries from their local farmers’ market without actually going outside.

Online operator Fresh Nation takes orders for items available at farmers’ markets, shops the market for the products and then delivers them to consumers’ homes.

“It’s a fairly sophisticated system that keeps the online market essentially as close as possible to the real market,” Fresh Nation CEO Tony Lee told SN.

Lee described the company as the “Uber of farmers’ markets,” referring to the popular rideshare app that allows users to quickly connect with drivers. He also agreed that the model is similar to the grocery delivery company Instacart, but for a different channel.


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The retailer’s employees are trained in food safety and deliver the product from the market in a short amount of time. There is no delivery fee for orders over $ 75 and a $ 5 delivery fee for those smaller orders. 

Fresh Nation officially launched its business this May in Los Angeles, Fairfield County, Conn., and Westchester County, New York.

The company piloted the program last year in Fairfield, Conn.

“We just wanted to see if — well, we wanted to see a lot of things: We wanted to see if we could really put farmers’ markets online, if we could build the system to make that happen and whether customers would react well. And the answer, I guess, was yes, yes, yes,” Lee said.

After the pilot, Fresh Nation redeveloped its system to allow for expansion to more locations.

Lee previously worked in technology and e-commerce until 2011 when he started his own farmers’ market. This experience proved useful in recruiting growers and vendors.

“I guess you could say we got street cred,” he said. “The vendors know we aren’t just a bunch of technology geeks who are doing something they don’t really understand. We’ve run a farmers’ market, we’ve done with dozens of vendors. That’s helped us a lot with our relationships with them.”

The concept appears to be resonating with time-strapped consumers. Sales have been doubling each month, according to Lee.

While it might seem difficult to keep up year-round offerings in the East Coast’s colder months, Lee said farmers are increasingly growing products through the winter.

“The farmers are really cranking out — under hoops and in greenhouses — some really unbelievable products.”

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Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

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Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

Attention Paid Print Subscribers:  While you have already been granted free access to SN we ask that you register now. We promise it will only take a few minutes! Or visit your profile and add your print magazine account number and zip code.

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Supermarket News

Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger e-commerce

Kroger, once considered a laggard among food retailers pursuing an e-commerce strategy, will leap into the field through a proposed acquisition of vitamin-and-supplement e-tailer Vitacost.com. Kroger said it would pay approximately $ 280 million for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Vitacost. The acquisition would provide Kroger with extensive e-commerce experience and what it called “a substantial platform” including technology and ship-to-home fulfillment centers with the ability to serve …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Vitacost buy will jumpstart Kroger ecommerce. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

Attention Paid Print Subscribers:  While you have already been granted free access to SN we ask that you register now. We promise it will only take a few minutes! Or visit your profile and add your print magazine account number and zip code.

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Walmart to build new e-commerce fulfillment center

Wal-Mart Stores said it would build a new e-commerce fulfillment center in Lainfield, Ind. Officials said the 1.2-million-square-foot facility, expected to be operational early next year, would provide one- or two-day Internet order fulfillment capabilities from Texas to east of the Mississippi. 

The company plans to begin hiring for the new fulfillment center in October.

“By combining large-scale online fulfillment centers with Walmart’s distribution centers, world-class transportation network and 4,200 stores, we have the ability to get incredibly close to our customers to deliver orders faster and at a lower cost,” Brent Beabout, SVP of supply chain and logistics for Walmart global e-commerce, said in a statement. “This center alone will allow cost-effective delivery to more than 160 million people in just one to two days.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered the company up to $ 2.9 million in conditional tax credits and up to $ 200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans.

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Unilever: Ecommerce a must

Companies that don’t build an online business could lose some of their brick-and-mortar business.

“Lose online; lose offline,” Doug Straton, Unilever’s director of North American e-Commerce Center of Excellence, said in a Shopper Marketing Summit presentation.

Doug Straton, director of Unilever's North American e-Commerce Center of ExcellenceWhile some consumer packaged goods companies may question whether it pays to address a business that currently represents about 1% of sales, Straton said marketers should focus more on channel migration versus incrementalism.

“If you don’t capture migration, you will lose,” he said.

Straton leads Unilever’s North American eCommerce Center of Excellence, which develops digital capabilities, shopper insights and ecommerce best practices.

Straton acknowledged that some companies may agree to creating ecommerce capabilities on a small level, agreeing to just a part-time position versus an entire team.

“You have to build a case why you need an ecommerce team,” he said. “You have to be convincing.”

Among the ways to sell ecommerce to higher-ups: Highlight the key drivers and effect on the broader landscape; define profits and loss impacts over long time frames; and identify gaps versus the competition, said Straton.

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Organic E-Commerce Specialist Expands

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Door to Door Organics, an e-commerce company that specializes in home deliveries of natural and organic foods, is scheduled to introduce a new element to its website in mid-October — a program that will allow consumers to move smoothly from one department to another, the online equivalent of what they might do in a brick-and-mortar supermarket. “Rather than offering a flat list of categories as most online sites do, we think a guided experience will …

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In the Trenches: Keep a sharp eye on the e-commerce grocery business

In earlier days, small neighborhood grocery stores were situated on every corner while supermarkets were expanding rapidly. Competition wasn’t so fierce then and the little family-owned neighborhood stores, which focused on offering good service, never marketed themselves in newspaper ads or by any other means except word of mouth.

One of the best services neighborhood grocery stores offered was home delivery. A customer would call the store and read a list of items over the phone to the clerk. The store would select all the items and then deliver the groceries to the customer’s house in a wagon, and the process would repeat itself the following week. This was a convenience for the customers and saved them time and the need to travel to the store having to do it themselves.

Home delivery of groceries is alive and well in 2013 and it is growing more popular by the day. The difference today lies within the technology that is rapidly advancing the program to the next level in grocery shopping.

Byron Bellows, produce merchandiser for Coleman’s supermarket chain in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada said, “Coleman’s has been doing home delivery for years dating back to the original days of Arthur James Coleman delivering groceries to his customers with a horse and buggy. Today is much different, but in some ways has not changed much. Our customers call, fax or go online and place orders. They build a grocery list that remains in their personal file for reordering.  Groceries are selected at each store location and delivered directly to the homes. Many long-standing customers have come to enjoy this service, which has been a successful part of the Coleman business since 1934. You might say we are the pioneers of home shopping.”

Some early ventures into online grocery shopping were not very successful. One of the earlier start-up companies, Webvan, soon learned that unbearable costs in product storage and delivery were too much to handle.

Heidi Chapnick, e-commerce expert and chief executive officer of Channalysis LLC in White Plains, NY, who is also an associate of FreshXperts LLC, headquartered in Kansas City, MO, said, “Current online grocery shopping endures many challenges and because of the razor-thin profit margin in delivery of grocery/fresh, companies often suffer huge losses on an annual basis. Delivery has been a main downfall for many online grocers. When I helped start Peapod on the East Coast, there were two competitors. We became the leader because we nailed down the operational issues with delivery costs. We built slowly, zip by zip, to keep costs down. Building density carefully will lower delivery costs unless the grocer has begun to opt for a UPS-type situation of outsourcing their deliveries.”

Amazon has been testing online food deliveries in the Seattle area since 2007 and is now expanding into Los Angeles. Other locations, such as San Francisco, are in the planning stages.

Walmart is also cautiously testing online groceries/general merchandise in the San Francisco area. It may have an advantage in logistics because it can ship orders directly from the chain’s many store locations. However, testing is the guideline and determining factor for a successful program.

Derrell Kelso, owner and president of Onions Etc. in Stockton, CA,  discussed the threats supermarket brick-and-mortar operations could face from online grocers.

“In my opinion, the threat is not to recognize the fight for stomach space and not to compete for it,” he said. “The biggest threat in the 1980s was fast food. Now, it looks like online grocery shopping could be entering the picture, though the biggest challenge will be in the shipping costs.”

Maintaining the integrity of fresh items is a huge challenge in the online shopping business. Some companies use refrigerated trucks, while others use dry ice and chill packs to control product temperature.

“Proper packing is intrinsic to maintaining the integrity of food, and training is imperative as well, not only in picking produce properly but packing,” said Chapnick. “Some produce needs to be refrigerated, while other produce can’t be.”

Customers demand convenience and convenience dictates choice. Choice dictates that there are different channels of sales, hence the ability to go to the store one day and to order online or with a mobile device the next day — or consumers will go somewhere else where they can do what is easiest on any given day.

Brick-and-mortar supermarkets have had a difficult time trying to meet the online grocery shopping challenges. It’s a changing trend in consumer shopping.

“Even if you are at break even, you have to offer online shopping in this day and age,” said Chapnick. “Erosion is occurring at a very rapid rate with respect to brick-and-mortar grocers who do not offer online shopping. In one large company, they are eroding at a half a percent each year due to online competition. Online shopping is the cost of doing business today. Brick-and-mortar will continue to erode as enterprises that offer online shopping and delivery encroach on their territories rapidly.”

The reawakening of home delivery grocery shopping is generating new interest these days. This could be another battle in the works for that “fight for stomach space,” Kelso added.

Let the competition begin.

Ron Pelger is the president and CEO of RonProCon, a consulting firm for the produce industry, and the chairperson of FreshXperts LLC, a consortium of produce professionals. He can be reached by phone at 775/853-7056 or by email at ronprocon@gmail.com, or check his details on freshxperts.com for more information.

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