Why A Fake Food Store Is Not News

The Lempert Report
March 31, 2017

Business Insider published a major story about how Instacart built a fake mini supermarket in its offices in order to teach their engineers and others how to make Instacart’s service more efficient.

The story contained 19 photos of the testing area loaded with fake foods like bananas (which according to the story is Instacart’s number one item) and different varieties of seafood. 

I’ve talked a lot about how Silicon Valley is changing the food world – the entire supply chain – in both retail and foodservice. And how their philosophy of life hacking will do much to improve the food world. But this story annoys me. On this last Friday in March I need to remind people who run companies like Instacart and writers like Biz Carson at Business Insider that while something like building a store testing lab might be new to them, its been a tool used both in CPG offices and retailers for many decades. 

We are living in an era where people without any background or experience in food are building new food companies and writing about food. Sometimes doing your homework is a good thing. 

I’ve written before how Instacart is at risk, mostly because of their employee morale and customers starting to add up just how much this convenience is costing them. And how supermarkets click and pick up services are growing and for many shoppers this offers a much better alternative without the possible addition of 10 to 25%. What Instacart should do with that additional $400 million of funding is focus on their customers and associates. 

Just because its new to you – doesn’t mean its new to everyone else….or noteworthy.