Delivering the Death of Supermarkets

Will the produce aisle soon be obsolete?

It’s easy to imagine online shopping replacing grocery stores. With technological advances and a public that expects immediacy and convenience, old fashioned supermarkets might soon become a relic.

Amazon has revolutionized shopping. Meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Fresh Direct take the guesswork and legwork out of buying food. If you don’t want to shop, cook or recipe plan you don’t have to.

People seem to like thinking millennials are lazy. But it’s more accurate to say that they’re efficient; they don’t work hard if it’s not necessary. Online food services are a great example—by expending little energy, you get big rewards.

“We are the generation of instant gratification. If you look at what Amazon is trying to achieve overall, it’s to fulfill that need,” says online grocery platform Selfpoint CEO Mayer Gniwisch. “Every new idea of Amazon’s is pushing the goal line closer to instant gratification.”

A recent study found that people are happier when they can pay others to do pesky chores. This saves time and produces immediate results.

Blue Apron, Uber and Amazon Prime make customers happier. And why shouldn’t we all pursue happiness?

Bryan Eisenberg, author of Be Like Amazon: Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It says that these delivery services cater to the desires of modern customers. “Today’s consumer wants a great selection, a fair price, instant delivery and an awesome experience.”

Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods could result in the rapid expansion of online grocery shopping: complete with all of the ingredients Eisenberg says make up a successful consumer experience.

“Where I think Amazon will have a significant advantage in changing the shopping model for grocery is in all the pre-packaged and cooked foods that are made in Whole Foods,” Says Eisenberg.

Grocery stores need to innovate to hold onto their customer base.

Grocery stores have advantages. Some people want to buy food locally, to browse options and speak with somebody who can offer them help. This type of interaction is impossible online.

But online grocers are adapting. Gniwisch says Selfpoint has a chat feature; “If you are shopping for meat, you can chat with the butcher in the store to see what’s on special, what to do with the cut you are buying, just as you would when you are in the store.”

It seems unlikely that online grocery shopping will kill supermarkets anytime soon. But Eisenberg can imagine a future where smart homes order groceries for us—anticipating our needs and ordering goods before we know we want them.

Until then, savor your trips to Whole Foods. Online shopping doesn’t have free samples.