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Local Comes Home in Pittsburgh

Local Comes Home in Pittsburgh

As if channel blurring and a recession weren’t enough, how do you compete against a rival who doesn’t even have a store?

Supermarkets in the Pittsburgh, Pa. [3], area will find out soon enough as [4], the “Virtual Farmers Market,” begins making home deliveries to subscribers throughout western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, West Virginia, western New York and Virginia. Delivery charges will run $6.95 on orders over $60.

goodapples_300.jpg [5]Founded in 2005, GoodApples started out handling corporate orders and on-site pickups. Since then, it’s grown to become the largest online grocer in Pennsylvania, with more than 30 employees (order pickers are called Perfectionists) and a fleet of delivery and transport vehicles. The site offers a variety of fresh foods, and whenever possible, the items are locally grown and produced.

Founder John McClelland told e-magazine Pop City [6] that, while the economy has slowed business a bit, the company continues to grow with 2008 revenues of $2.5 million, more than double the year before. McClellan, a veteran of the software industry, developed a just-in-time ordering system that maximizes the fresh aspect of the foods ordered.

The supermarket industry operates under a different model, but there are a few lessons here. One, people love fresh and local and remain willing to pay for it; and two, they’re willing to shop online for fresh foods — if they trust the seller. GoodApples, which appends product descriptions with a wealth of nutrition and health information, offers a 200% no-questions-asked “quality satisfaction guarantee.”

That’s pretty convincing, don’t you think?