business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times files a report in its "Circuits" section this morning about the resurgence of online grocery shopping, noting that much of the success being seen in the segment right now comes from companies with a specific niche.

In New York City, for example, "FreshDirect limits service to Manhattan (with plans to expand gradually into other boroughs and the New York suburbs). With 3,000 orders a week, the upscale products…clearly appeal to time-stressed food sophisticates who have rude friends and no off-street parking (or even cars) available for unloading their own grocery bags.

"And if that turns out to be a niche market in the end, so what? It's still a market."

In North Carolina, on the other hand, at, "customers pick up their online orders at any one of three dozen drive-through locations. In Seattle and New York, organic-produce sellers like and deliver weekly boxes of seasonal fruits and vegetables to customers. Then there's, whose customers in 13 states don't have to do anything more sophisticated online than type out an old-fashioned grocery list ("2 cans peas, 1 tuna in water, 3 peaches"). "

(Full disclosure: The site was designed by, which is an MNB sponsor.)

"Peapod," the NYT reports, "which delivers groceries in densely populated areas like Long Island, Chicago, Boston, Westchester, southern Connecticut and Washington, appeals online to the same customers who shop in Royal Ahold's stores, including the Stop & Shop and Giant chains. They tend to fall into three categories, said Marc van Gelder, the company's chief executive: busy families with kids, busy professional families with two incomes, and small companies like law firms - all of which have an average order size of 60 items for $143.
KC's View:
Just wait until Amazon gets into the business…suddenly, we suspect, you'll see a lot more attention and respect paid to this category.