Why the last mile is the biggest puzzle in the produce aisle

The competition to deliver your groceries is tight. The task can be a logistics nightmare.

February 23, 2020

The delivery company Skipcart is skipping out on its partnership with Walmart, in another supply-chain breakup for the grocery giant.

The move highlights a dilemma in the war to bring brown paper bags right to your doorstep: Grocery shopping is a drag. Online delivery is booming. Why is it so hard to make money doing it?

It’s stickier than a cleanup on Aisle 7

The competition to deliver your groceries is tight. The task can be a logistics nightmare.

  • FreshDirect, which is staging a comeback after years of struggles, angered customers by delivering broken eggs and rotten fruit.
  • Before Walmart ended a delivery partnership with Deliv, Reuters said drivers sometimes had to wait 40 minutes to collect orders.
  • Delays have consequences: One survey found 80% of customers would switch brands if they didn’t get their stuff on time — or if they couldn’t track the goods all the way home.
  • In another survey, 97% of executives said grocery delivery is unsustainable unless it can be done cheaper.

Ben Jones, Skipcart’s CEO, told Bloomberg that the grocery-delivery model has a hole in the bag.

“It doesn’t work today,” he said, “and it’s not going to work six months from now. We’re all losing money.”

One possible solution: our robot overlords

In December, Walmart announced a pilot program to test autonomous grocery delivery.

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