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Marketing Ideas for Online Grocery Delivery Service

Mon, Jan 21, 2008

Bloggers, Marketing, Twitter

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An interesting discussion got started on Twitter over the weekend and has migrated to blogs to continue the conversation. It started when Laura Fitton mentioned how happy she was to be able to do her grocery shopping while in her pajamas. She uses Peapod to order groceries online and have them delivered.

Merlene complained: “I’m jealous.. I’m *just* at the edge of suburbia and the online grocery shops won’t deliver this far. Asking for 11 yrs now.”

I added that I had used Peapod years ago and wished they had not discontinued service in our area. That led to speculation that perhaps they had launched too early. Merlene responded: “Exactly. A lot of companies (not just grocery) who tried to sell online 10 yrs ago not doing it now because of early losses. I’m in a city of +500k and within an hour there are over 5 million ppl. Huge market. But I can haz grocery online? NO!

Anna Lenardsen jumped in to say, “My brother is trying to launch a similar (peapodian) type venture on a local level in Michigan,” and asked for suggestions.

As usual, the Twitter community was quick to respond. Following is a sample (in reverse chronological order, with apologies to those I may have missed outside my twitstream):

BarbaraKB @conniereece “tweet specials” Now, that sound intriguing. I don’t do coupons. No time for clipping & remembering. Ugh. Just give me the deal

shawnz @conniereece It could be created single sheet 8.5×11 and put on flyers all over neighborhoods, businesses, etc. Pick one up anywhere. Fax it

shawnz @conniereece This ALL OUT OF pad is what I’m talking about: http://snurl.com/1xs7v Use something like this for an ad.

shawnz @conniereece Have you seen those grocery store staple lists? Where you just check things off you need? That should be his ad. Just fax in.

kdpaine @conniereece I’d offer a discount as a member benefit to local church groups, quilters, professional associations etc

hardaway @oemperor. Repeat experience establishes trust. It’s about performance.

hardaway @oemperor. Absolutely. But grocery staff turns over. I’d like a vegetarian produce picker.

oemperor @hardaway if bashas.com were more like dating service, with ability to select personal shopper based on profile/prefs, would you like this?

hardaway @conniereece. You know what I mean. Sometimes I get ugly produce and meat. Or they forget something. But it is great service

oemperor @shawnz delivered to you automatically, on request only, or both?

hardaway @conniereece. Worst thing about grocery delivery: depends on the produce piclker or butcher picker.

jeremymiddleton @conniereece I think if you go to smallsmallbizpod Alex Bellinger posted a site of a guy in the UK doing the same thing

mourningcloak @conniereece what kind of online grocery is this? a pickup service, delivery service, both, or mail-order type of service?

oemperor @alenardson create hashtag for local online market eg igrocery in arlington va could use hashtag #igrocery22206

conniereece @alenardson You can use 3rd party Twitter clients to search by zip code/location – think it’s Twittervision? Somebody help me out w/ name.

hardaway @oemperor @conniereece. My grocery delivery: Bashas.com, “groceries on the go.” Saves my last list, gives me the specials.

oemperor @conniereece hmm…modeling online grocery on dating service, in terms of establishing TRUST between shopper and shoppee

oemperor @conniereece or if you want metrics based matching between personal shoppers and customers, steal a page from eharmony

alenardson Re: twitter for local marketing: is there a way to tap into local tweeters?

oemperor @conniereece have each personal shopper, and each customer, complete survey “8 things most important to me in shopping”

conniereece @oemperor Excellent idea of offering oppty to meet shoppers – hold “class” at grocery store when they begin using service.

oemperor @conniereece perhaps trust factor via personal online relationships. “i am avail to shop 4 u weekday aft. i pick newest bags of frozen peas”

oemperor @conniereece perhaps if you can meet the shoppers so that you can trust them to do what you do

conniereece @oemperor @alangutierrez Yes, but w/ perishables online grocer can tout services of thr “experts” & build trust factor by delivering quality

jeremymiddleton @conniereece @alendarson think that, that is a good idea, you could post things like whats fresh in season etc, just arrived new line!

agershenbaum @conniereece visit gigya.com and gydget.com

oemperor @conniereece i suspect @alangutierrez may be right. you lose control if someone else touches and picks out your food. esp for perishables

Merlene @conniereece offer a monthly or weekly discount coupon for subscribers to e-flyer, twitter, etc.

conniereece Question: @alendardson brother starting online grocery delivery service. Suggestions for using social media in their marketing? I’ll compile

conniereece @oemperor Discussion w/ @merlene @paulswansen seems to indicate too early to market, too tradtl in mktg approach. Your thoughts?

alenardson @merlene what else besides twitter? to reach a broader public. Not a particularly progressive community.

oemperor what shuttered the earlier online grocery efforts? lack of customer interest? no cost effective delivery? spoiled fruit?

Merlene @alenardson and sprinkle some tips, links to recipes, etc. to create flow of useful content to tweets/blog/etc.

Merlene @alenardson twitter profile for business. Daily tweets of specials, etc. with link to site. Easy opt in advert for those who want it.

Following our 140-characters-at-a-time marketing conversation, Ontario Emperor developed his ideas into a blog post saying that online grocery services should be like online dating services.

Marketer extraordinaire Andy Sernovitz (@sernovitz on Twitter) emailed some additional tips:

  • Peapod does very well here in chicago, and I used freshdirect in nyc.
  • Peapod is great about hiring for personality. Drivers are friendly, chatty, helpful. Plus they know the merch, always making product reccos, bring the occasional gift. You welcome them into your home instead of fearing wierd delivery guy.
  • Another trick to try – unique foods that you can only get from the service. Famous cheesecakes, salt lick, some special cheese company, rare beers, cult classic comfort foods (mallomar).
  • How about gift boxes – sick kid box, breaking up with boyfriend box

Andy gave one last tip that is always worth noting: “Remember – free advice is worth what you pay.”

I wish that Twitter pals CK, DrewMcLellan, Mack Collier, BL Ochman and Toby Bloomberg had been online because I would love to hear their suggestions. Perhaps their interest will be piqued and they will offer advice in the comments here or blog about it themselves.

Thanks for the question, Anna, and I hope these tidbits are helpful to your brother’s new venture.

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.


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13 Comments For This Post

  1. yndygo Says:

    Interesting conversation I missed!

    I’ll put in 2 cents from the consumer perspective.
    Because I went online yesterday trying to see if maybe the bakery near me had their custom cakes on line…
    While the store a mile away from me has online shopping w/ free delivery – I won’t ever use it.
    Because I’m a visual person, not an otic one.
    I don’t want to order “bread” or “milk” or even “low carb white bread” or “skim milk” — I want to *see* the brand packaging, compare and contrast nutritional info, price, volume, and date of freshness.

    I don’t want to order “8″ round cake chocolate w/ chocolate icing” I want to *see* a cake and think “oooh… yum! I want that one!”

    One of the major reasons that Amazon.com was successful was that you could *see* the book/product before you bought.

    Honestly? I just can’t see a grocery store maintaining a sophisticated enough website for me to use it.
    Unless it was of Amazon.com quality.

  2. Anna Says:

    Thanks, Connie! Some great responses were outside my tweet stream. I will send my brother a link and to @oemperor as well.

  3. Ryan Karpeles Says:

    To go along with yndygo’s comment, how about adding customer reviews to the pictures?

    If the vegetables are consistently sub-par, it’ll appear on the site for everyone to see. This keeps consumers happy by reinforcing their purchasing (or avoiding) decision. And it also holds the company to higher standards, since the quality of their food will be out in the open for everyone to see (and rate).

    You could also have RSS feeds for new/interesting products, a “most popular products” section, and even a community of buyers (with headshots?) who can discuss and compare merchandise in an open forum.

  4. Toby Says:

    My secret is now out .. I love grocery shopping. That said, how about a meal of the day complete with recipes from the community? Couple be an opportunity to bring in some ad $.

  5. Kara Soluri Says:

    I quit using an online grocery service in the DC area because the on-line shopping process was way more time consuming than actually going to the store a mile away and picking out the products myself. Even if all the products were detailed online and reviewed, I probably wouldn’t want to linger at the site. Shopping for books is entertaining. Shopping for carrots, not so much!

    Simplicity and quality would be key if I were to give it a go again. I’d trust someone to pick out the staples for me, i.e. diapers, peanut butter, dog food, milk, eggs, etc. and reduce my trips to the store by at least 1/2.

  6. mtkr Says:

    I really miss the days of kozmo.com in NYC. You could get a whole range of products within an hour. They’ve started something similar called Max Delivery, but it doesn’t reach up into my neighborhood.

  7. Merlene Says:

    For a number of reasons I’d love to have the option to order groceries online and have them delivered.

    It’s funny I grew up in a time (and a place) that saw my mother making a check list for the dairy delivery man. We’d get milk, eggs, cheese (cheddar, cottage, etc.) and yogurt delivered once a week.

    We also had a bread delivery and seafood delivery service that came by.

    My mother did go to the grocery store in town every Friday (after getting her hair “set” at the local beauty parlour) but friends of hers had a grocery list they’d call in and have delivered each week.

    Personally, I’d use the online grocery service frequently. Especially if they offered a way to “remember” my favourite items/brands so I could quickly order the items I purchase each week (coffee, bagels, rice, soup, and so on). I’d probably still visit the grocery store on occasion to find new things, etc. Just as I love to browse through a book store even when I shop at Amazon :)

  8. Drew McLellan Says:

    Connie et al,

    I think what we’re talking about is customized service at a macro level. What if you created “fun” profiles of the potential shoppers?

    Do you want the Penny Pincher doing your shopping? How about the Hurried Bachelor? Or the Very Vegan? Single Dad? Mom of 8? Basics Bob?

    Each of those stereotypes would shop a different way and value different things. Consumers could match themselves with the traits they value most.

    You could extend the service to your shopper actually putting together your menu and shopping list too, once trust was established.

    A shopper could create a family profile (family of 1 to family of 10+) and include likes and dislikes. That could get stored on the computer. You could even set a budget.

    Maybe every Saturday you could get an e-mail from your shopper, with a suggested week of menu items. You could veto or approve each meal (and you could specify dinner only or M-F only etc) and then they’d get groceries and recipes and deliver it all up.

    Dang…I wish someone would do this in Des Moines! We’d be their first customer.

    Drew

  9. Susan Says:

    How about utilizing local online directories and offering a discount for mentioning it? Celebrity Foods does that here on the west coast.

  10. TimB Says:

    For more info on e-grocery service go to the web site.

    http://www.cstresearch.com/10yeasafterwebvan.htm

  11. Julie Says:

    I’d love to see a nation online grocery delivery service that would accept an xml upload of grocery lists from my online dinner planning site http://www.dinnersinaflash.com or for the consumer. The online shopping process is slow and tedious.

  12. sandy2982 Says:

    I recently tried buying my groceries online and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. I found all of the items on my shopping list in about 20 minutes, paid and they were at my door by late afternoon. I never even had to leave my house! I used D’agostino’s online shopping but I believe there are many others. Really good idea, wish I had done it sooner.

  13. Barb Says:

    Just FYI — sandy2982 is a known spammer. They have posted the same thing on numerous sites.

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  1. links for 2008-01-23 « Brendan Cooper - Your friendly PR social media planner Says:

    [...] Marketing Ideas for Online Grocery Delivery Service “As usual, the Twitter community was quick to respond.” I have never, ever seen Twitter leap into action like this. I must still be doing something wrong? (tags: twitter microblogging marketing ideas pneo001) [...]