Given that no one method of online ordering has definitively taken hold as of yet, there are many different models in play. The following section provides a brief overview of the major types of online ordering and fulfillment presently in use.
Online Order & Shipment
The most established type of online ordering; the shipping component of this method is conducted using the postal system, or companies like FedEx or UPS. Netgrocer.com and AviGlatt.com (kosher foods) illustrate the types of companies using this method.
Online Order & Delivery from a Distribution Center
This approach focuses on fulfilling items ordered online by delivering them from a distribution center. Some companies currently engaged in this method include Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct and Google Express.
Specialty Online with Delivery
Certain providers mostly emphasize local & organic or specialty products. Companies like Relay Foods, Farmigo and goodeggs.com operate in this space. Recent consumer research conducted by the Retail Feedback Group regarding online shopping found that the reason indicated by the largest number of shoppers for purchasing supermarket items online centered on availability of hard to find items.
Online Order & Store Pickup or Delivery
Many traditional supermarket retailers provide a service whereby shoppers can order online and either pickup at the store (click & collect) or have the items delivered to their home (click & deliver). Some retailers offer both while others only offer one of the options. A large number of retailers use this method including Tesco, Walmart and Safeway, to name just a few.
There are many other models being tested in the food space. For example, the drive through model being tested by Walmart in the U.S. and in use by Chronodrive in France uses a small fulfillment center coupled with a drive-through to pick up grocery items. Another example is Instacart, which uses personal shoppers that visit stores, shop for items and deliver them to the customer. Finally, there are other concepts like Blue Apron and Plated that deliver integrated meal ingredients and let the shopper cook a specific meal.
While these different models of ordering and fulfillment will continue to evolve, it is apparent that shopping for food online is here to stay!