Instacart Piles Into Grocery Delivery With New Funding- Who Wins?

Consumers are a lazy bunch. We love the simple click of a mouse to order clothing, kitchen gadgets, shoes and even rugs and furniture. It’s so easy for us. Browse, click and then binge on Netflix until the ordered goods magically appear on our porch.

The logistics of moving all that merchandise around is big business. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has been the Rockstar of online order fulfillment. In the past ten years, it has built up a virtual army of warehouses stocked with robots and real live humans helping to get your packages out of the warehouse and to you efficiently.

Instacart, a San Francisco based grocery delivery provider, just received $200 million in new funding from private equity investors. The recent round values the company at $4.2 billion. This is almost 24% higher than less than a year ago.

The trend in online shopping and home delivery of groceries is driving the enthusiasm for Instacart. Picking and sorting sweaters and running shoes for an order with one or two items is simple compared to the new wave of online grocery shopping.


 Let’s face it, going to the grocery store is a complicated job.

First, you’ve got your list. You may know that your scribbled “chix” means two pounds of Springer brand organic grass fed chicken breast but a robot doesn’t. How about that four-letter weekly refill- MILK? At my house that used to mean a gallon of store brand 1% milk. Now it means a half gallon of whole Lactaid with a half-gallon of store brand skim.

Then there’s the problem of finding the product in the store. The execution here is critical. Let’s face it- how many of you has received a call (or placed one) from an aisle in the grocery store? You know the drill, “Honey, where do they keep the capers at Stop and Shop?”.

Imagine an army of workers scurrying through a warehouse frantically scanning shelves for your 6 oz can of sriracha low-salt almonds.

Then there’s the packing and the delivery. You don’t have to worry about the outdoor temps when delivering a pair of shoes to someone’s front door. But when your cargo includes ice cream, milk and eggs, you’ll need a delivery vehicle PLUS storage boxes that are temperature sensitive.

And of course, there’s that last-mile headache that every delivery service faces. To date, there is no replacement for cold hard manual labor when it comes to bringing a package to your home.

As Amazon works on expanding its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service, competitors like Instacart are feverishly gaining market share. Now that Amazon owns Whole Foods many grocery stores would rather align themselves with an independent supplier.

Instead of stocking a warehouse with thousands of grocery items, Instacart hires shoppers who walk the aisles of your local grocery store and choose your items. It charges a $6 delivery fee and offers same-day deliveries from a limited number of grocery stores. This sounds like a bargain to me. 

Just like we’ve become addicted to online shopping, I expect many consumers will shift a portion of their grocery shopping online. Not only will it be much easier to find a spot in the grocery store parking lot, many companies up and down the supply chain will prosper.

I’ve been hunting for stocks that will benefit from this online tsunami of groceries to your doorsteps. I just added a stock to my Profit Catalyst Portfolio that offers some upside from home delivery and have a few more I’ll be throwing in my portfolio shopping cart soon.


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