Time for Supermarkets, & the US Postal Service, to Catch Up!

The Lempert Report
May 02, 2014

What do supermarkets have in common with the US Postal service?

Well unfortunately, both have been slow to identify consumer trends and serve up what people want.  Just as the Post Office lost ground to UPS and Fedex, supermarkets have, so far, failed to compete in the online delivery world.  

Take for example, Amazon and AmazonFresh who have made significant efforts to shape an effective and profitable online food delivery model, not to mention other businesses such as Instacart, Google and ShopRunner, plus Peapod, FreshDirect, Walmart and other chains.  Bottom line is that supermarkets have gotten off to a very slow start. 

IBISWorld predicts 9.5% annual growth for online grocery shopping to $9.4 billion in 2017, up from $6 billion in 2012. So if supermarkets prioritize online delivery and click-and-collect strategies and infrastructure today, they may well reap competitive advantage in a growing sector. An idea that sounds far more profitable than joining forces with the Post Office. 

According to an account in Food Logistics, Nagisa Manabe, the chief marketing and sales officer for USPS, told the PostalVision 2020 Conference that home refrigerators will automatically reorder foods by 2020, and the Post Office, collaborating with grocers nationwide, could deliver those foods.

Manabe is an accomplished marketer with food in her background.  But to expect customers to wait six years for this idea to come to fruition is, well, unrealistic. In the digital world, that's an eternity. To make the best of this idea and cash in on current consumer trends,  we urge the Post Office to detail its food-delivery plans much sooner than that. Meanwhile, grocers must make online delivery a priority now, before they are completely left behind.