Gone are the days of the traditional shopping experience. That’s because companies like San Francisco-based InstaCart are teaming up with some of the nation’s major grocery retailers to provide home delivery in certain zip codes.

InstaCart is a third-party app-based delivery service that is changing the way consumers shop for groceries. Working with Mariano’s, Costco, Kroger, Whole Foods and Target, to name a few, and even with
AllRecipes.com, a food-focused social media website for home cooks based in Seattle, Wash., InstaCart is upping the grocery delivery game for veterans like Amazon and Peapod.

“Fundamentally, the online food business is changing,” says Barry Clogan, senior vice president, business consulting services for MyWebGrocer, a Winooski, Vt.-based digital experience platform provider. “A number of years ago, customers only went to the grocery store. Now customers shop online, some buy their fresh produce from specialist ‘direct-from-farm’ providers and meal solution providers cater to the time poor or the disciplined dieters. Customer behavior is changing, and there are lots of players nibbling away at share of wallet.”

In September, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. announced a grocery delivery pilot program with InstaCart, in which customers in the Minneapolis area could order groceries and other items for same-day delivery. However, execution of the delivery and turning that test customer into a repeat one are dependent on so many factors.

“I believe the doorstep experience is critical, particularly for food,” adds Clogan. “Think about when somebody arrives at your door with the important ingredients for your screaming children or the all-consuming dinner party. Broken eggs or an unsuitable substitute can have immediate and detrimental impacts.”

And, fresh, chilling and frozen foods are key in winning an online food proposition, he adds.

“Done well, chilled and frozen foods outperform those same categories offline. Customers tend to be time starved with young families. So, they over-index on fresh, frozen, dairy, etc.,” says Clogan.

Regardless of where, when and how you shop for groceries, technological advances such as an app-based delivery service will continue to change the consumer shopping experience.