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C&S Wholesale Grocers and Instacart will work closely to help retailers build an e-commerce and delivery offering customized to their consumer base.

C&S Wholesale, Instacart team up to bring online grocery to 3,000 independents

Grocery distributor will help bring its network of independent grocers onto the Instacart online marketplace

C&S Wholesale Grocers has partnered with Instacart to offer e-commerce and same-day delivery solutions to more than 3,000 independent supermarket retailers nationwide.

San Francisco-based Instacart said Thursday that, under the alliance, C&S will help bring its network of independent grocers onto the Instacart online marketplace. The companies will work closely to help retailers build an e-commerce and delivery offering customized to their consumer base. Pickup service also is expected to be offered later on.

“C&S is proud to provide our retail partners with the ability to move their businesses online,” Corey Quiring, vice president of retail services at Keene, N.H.-baed C&S. “Now more than ever before, shoppers need the safety and convenience of online shopping and home delivery. Instacart’s services are unparalleled in providing a seamless shopping experience.”

Once a C&S independent grocer is live on the Instacart marketplace, customers then can visit the Instacart website or download the Instacart mobile app to access the service. After entering their city and selecting their store location, they can begin adding items to their virtual cart. An Instacart personal shopper then picks, packs and delivers the order within the designated time frame, which can be on the same day or scheduled in advance for up to two weeks.

To promote social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis, Instacart defaults all orders to “Leave at My Door” delivery so customers can receive their groceries in a contactless fashion.

“Connecting local grocers to their customers online is incredibly important to Instacart, and today the need for this is more important than ever,” according to Chris Rogers, vice president of retail at Instacart. “It’s critical that families have access to groceries and goods from the retailers they love and trust. By partnering with C&S, we’re able to bring more independently owned grocers online and ensure the communities they serve can more easily access the household essentials they need.”

The nation’s largest grocery distributor, C&S supplies more than 7,700 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with over 137,000 products. Currently, Instacart has more than 350 national, regional and local retailer partners and delivers from 25,000-plus stores across more than 5,500 cities in the United States and Canada. 

Instacart’s partnership with C&S marks its second pact with a major U.S. grocery wholesaler to reach independent supermarkets. In June 2018, Instacart and Supervalu unveiled a reseller agreement in which the Minneapolis-based distributor, now part of United Natural Foods Inc., could offer online shopping and on-demand delivery services to the 3,300-plus independent grocers it supplies as well as to stores in areas where Instacart operates.

With online grocery orders surging amid the coronavirus pandemic, Instacart recently has ramped up its base of personal shoppers to meet skyrocketing demand. In late April, the company said it aims to hire an additional 250,000 full-service personal shoppers, a month after announcing plans to hire 300,000 new full-service shoppers, which expanded its shopper community to more than 500,000 people. At the time, Instacart reported that order volume had jumped more than 500% year over year, with the average customer basket size growing 35%.

And online grocery sales have continued to boom. Strategic advisory firm Brick Meets Click last week reported that online grocery sales climbed 24% month-over-month to $6.6 billion in May. That gain followed a 37% jump in April to $5.3 billion from $4 billion in March.

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