When Amazon bought Whole Foods last summer, panic struck competing U.S grocers, who foresaw the retail behemoth delivering the fresh organic goods beloved by affluent shoppers at lightning speed. In the months since, major grocery companies like Kroger, Publix, andAhold Delhaize (owner of Giant and Stop & Shop), have inked deals with delivery maven Instacart to help compete. In total, the grocery deliver service has 155 clients, including top retailers like Target and Costco. The latest to join the herd is Albertsons, with Instacart’s on-demand delivery coming to 1800 of the chain’s stores in the first half of 2018.
Grocers are hoping that Instacart can help them hold onto a loyal customer base with new services and discounts for regular shoppers. Instacart says it believes its network of nimble contract workers gives it a leg up, giving it the ability to offer fast home grocery delivery now while Amazon continues to build out its own delivery infrastructure with Whole Foods. (For now, Instacart is still doing delivery for Whole Foods.)
But being first to grocery delivery may not matter—if Amazon can do it better.