In a development hailed as a “milestone” e-commerce partnership, Instacart on Wednesday said it is launching online shopping and delivery at Wegmans Food Markets in select cities.
The service, which will be available for shoppers of Wegmans stores in Northern Virginia and Maryland, will allow customers to order from Wegmans online and have their groceries delivered to them in as little as one hour. The companies are expected to announce additional markets.
The service marks the first time Wegmans — whose stores are admired for high volumes, fresh food presentation, service and selection — is offering same-day delivery for online shoppers, and represents a kind of validation for Instacart, which was once seen as an interloper to the supermarket industry but has since forged partnerships with leading brands including Wegmans peers like Publix and H-E-B.
Food retailers are racing to have an online offering to keep pace with competitors and fight off alternative channels of trade like Amazon. In a statement, Wegmans in a statement said it was offering the service to meet customer demand for time.
“We know our customers are busy, and that any found time in their week can make a difference. That’s where we can help — by giving them the option to have Wegmans delivered fresh to their door,” Heather Pawlowski, VP of e-commerce for Wegmans, said. “By partnering with an industry leader like Instacart, we’re able to provide our customers with a seamless shopping experience with the quality and service they’ve come to expect from Wegmans, without leaving their house.”
In an interview with SN, Nilam Ganenthiran, chief business officer at Instacart, said the partnership was forged over four years of discussions with Wegmans, which is based in Rochester, N.Y.
“Wegmans is one of the handful of truly beloved grocers across the country, privately held, extremely discerning, and known for high-quality customer service. It’s a retailer that others across the country really admire, and we admire them as well,” he said. “We spent a lot of time getting to know the team at Wegmans to try to find way to work together. They historically have done a lot in-house.”
Ganenthiran said security of customer data was a “level 1” concern for Wegmans; maintaining customer service and the Wegmans brand was another.
“Conceptually, anyone can run into a store and take food off the shelf and run it to someone’s home, but there’s so much nuance and intricacy there and that’s what Wegmans wanted to get comfortable with,” Ganenthiran said. “So it was making sure their guest experience stayed at the level they are accustomed to, because they do not compromise on that, nor should they.”
Instacart charges customers $5.99 on orders of $35 or more. Instacart Express membership is also available, enabling unlimited free one-hour deliveries on orders over $35 for an annual fee. After a free trial period, the annual fee varies by location from $99 to $149. Wegmans adds a small price increase to cover the cost of shopping customer orders.