Come And Get It - shopping online does not guarantee delivery
SPENDING | You can fill your order at ONLINE GROCERS, but be prepared to drive by a supermarket to pick it up.
THE TURMOIL surrounding dot-coms has hit online grocers especially hard. Home delivery is a painfully sore spot for e-grocers, who must either recoup their delivery costs by setting a high minimum on purchases or risk losing customers by raising their fees. Web-van, for example, has raised its minimum purchase for free home delivery from $50 to $75 for some California customers, and GroceryWorks has more than doubled its minimum order for free delivery from $25 to $60.
Rather than close up shop, struggling Internet grocers may be bailed out by traditional supermarkets. Customers will still order their groceries online but go to a nearby market to pick them up. If you prefer the convenience of delivery to your home or office, you'll have to pay for it.
Albertson's, the Idaho-based supermarket chain, already gives its customers the option of going to one of 36 Seattle-area stores to pick up online orders at drive-through sites. The service is free for online purchases of $5 or more. Otherwise, you have to pay $5.95, the same fee customers pay for a home or office delivery when purchases are less than $60.
"People in this business are throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks," says Matt Stamski, an analyst with Gomez Advisors, and he thinks the pickup option has staying power. "There's still the convenience of not having to walk around the store or stand in line at the check-out counter." And picky customers who prefer to examine their own avocados can run into the store.