Metro-East News

Big box stores adopt home delivery while smaller ones adapt without

Instacart, a home-delivery service based in San Francisco, expanded to the St. Louis region last week.

“St. Louis was the most successful launch in Instacart history so far, and we are on track to deliver six times what we were forecasting to deliver for launch week,” Andrea Toch wrote on behalf of Instacart. “It was a very busy day.”

Instacart partnered with a variety of stores in the St. Louis region, including Schnucks, Petco and Shop ‘n Save in the metro-east.

“It’s another new, innovative option for our customers,” Schnucks spokesman Paul Simon said.

Unlimited express delivery on orders more than $35 will cost $149 a year or $14.99 monthly. Single orders more than $35 will cost $5.99 for a two-hour delivery and $9.99 for a one-hour delivery. Orders between $10 and $34.99 will cost $7.99 and be delivered within two hours.

Not to be outdone, Walmart recently unveiled free two-day shipping for online orders of at least $35 for more than 2 million items, according to a company spokesman. The retail giant also offers a grocery pickup service at more than 600 locations. It is available at the Belleville and Collinsville locations.

The St. Louis Bread Co. also recently threw its hat into the delivery ring. A representative could not be reached for comment, but its website shows openings for drivers at locations throughout the St. Louis region.

Dierbergs could not be reached for comment on its approach to home delivery.

Adapting to change

As the home-delivery race heats up throughout the St. Louis region, some smaller, local businesses are attempting to find a way to adopt the trend, but it isn’t for everyone.

The Farmer’s Market, in downtown Belleville, recently suspended its home-delivery service after 18 months because of a lack of orders.

Eckert’s County Store & Farms is considering what home delivery and pickup would look like.

“I definitely will check (Instacart) out,” said Angie Eckert, the vice president of retail operations, who likes to learn new things to apply to her store.

“We struggle a little bit (with home delivery),” she said, but that’s because Eckert’s is crafted around providing an experience rather than a one-stop grocery store.

Home delivery may be out of sight for the near future for Eckert’s.

“The first thing is having good infrastructure,” Eckert said, but that presents a challenge to the store, including its approach toward handmade goods and a lack of cooler space.

As to her own shopping habits, Eckert said that she does shop at big-box stores, but that’s because they offer a few things that hers does not, such as Cheerios and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese, which her kids like.

Eckert also shops online for a few things. She said that some things people buy, like electronics, are already carefully considered purchases, and so those people may not need to go into the store.

She also praised home-delivery services for making it easier for people who can’t go to stores themselves to retain their independence, like busy parents or people with disabilities or health concerns.

But when it comes to purchasing an experience, “we really want people to see the apple on the tree,” she said.

Casey Bischel: 618-239-2655, @CaseyBischel