Instacart Announces 30-Minute Delivery As E-Grocers Race For Fastest Fulfillment

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Consumers may now be able to get groceries delivered in less time than it would take them to make the grocery trip themselves. Instacart announced on Thursday (May 27) that the company is launching 30-minute delivery in 15 United States cities.

This “Priority Delivery” option will allow these ultra-fast deliveries from select retailers including Sprouts Farmers Market, Stater Bros. Market, The Kroger Co.-owned Ralphs and Albertsons Companies-owned Safeway. Alongside this new option, Instacart will also expand access to 45-minute and 60-minute delivery across the country. Thirty-minute delivery will be available at more than 300 stores in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The company has not disclosed specifics as to how it will fulfill these 30-minute deliveries.

The news comes amid widespread competition for the fastest delivery times. Berlin-based unicorn e-grocery startup Gorillas announced on Monday (May 24) that it is bringing its 10-minute grocery delivery service to New York City, going live on Sunday (May 30). The company raised $290 million in its Series B round in March, and earlier this month was reported to be aiming to raise around $500 million at a $6 billion valuation.

“As a result of the pandemic, online grocery delivery has seen steep momentum, but now that this industry has experienced the long-overdue propulsion into eCommerce, it will be here to stay,” Kağan Sümer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Gorillas, said in a statement announcing the NYC launch.

New York is proving to be something of a testing ground for these sorts of tech-enabled, ultra-fast grocery delivery services. Fifteen-minute delivery service Fridge No More has gone live in several NYC neighborhoods following a $15 million in Series A fundraise in March. Where Gorillas emphasizes its micro-fulfillment capabilities, Fridge No More touts its cloud-based inventory.

“We have been extremely successful with our current network of cloud stores,” Fridge No More Co-Founders Pavel Danilov and Anton Gladkoborodov said in a statement announcing the fundraise. “And now, with support from Insight and other investors, we are well-positioned to become the leader in the instant grocery delivery market in the U.S.”

It’s not only startups competing for immediacy-seeking consumers’ grocery spending. Amazon, for one, announced on May 21 that it was integrating its Prime Now two-hour delivery service, which previously used its own specialized app, into the broader Amazon app. Amazon Vice President of Grocery Stephenie Landry wrote in a blog post that the service “has become a customer favorite” for groceries and other products. In international markets where this change had already been made, she added that the response was “overwhelmingly positive.”

In a similar move to make two-hour delivery fulfillment capabilities easier to access, Walmart dropped the $35 minimum order for its express, two-hour delivery service. The service delivers fresh groceries, shelf-stable foods and beverages, and non-grocery items.

For Instacart’s part, in addition to rolling out faster delivery times, the company has also been expanding its reach domestically and (potentially) abroad. On May 21, the company announced an expansion of its collaboration with 7-Eleven, growing the partnership to reach almost 60 million households. Meanwhile, on Tuesday (May 25), the company announced its “global ambitions” with the addition of Nikila Srinivasan as vice president of product, international. The announcement stated, “Nikila will lead the development of our long-term global strategy as we explore potential future market expansions.”

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