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Looking to compete with Albertsons’ online grocery store, which has been operating for about 18 months, Safeway has launched on a limited basis in the Philadelphia market.

The minimum order is $50, and delivery costs $9.95 with a two-hour window for delivery, or $7.95 with a four-hour delivery window. Orders over $150 have a delivery charge is $4.95. Unlike Acme, Genuardi’s does not offer store pick-up. The company also is allowing customers to access personal shopping lists developed with the use of its loyalty marketing card program.

The company has a store-pick model, with personal shoppers working from customer-submitted lists in just four units – in Springfield, Delaware County; Spring House and Roslyn, Montgomery County; and Feasterville, Bucks County. More stores are expected to offer the service soon, according to the company.

One of the features offered by Genuardi’s is the ability for consumers to specify the ripeness of the fruits and vegetables they choose, as well as the thickness of the steaks they order.

The online service is a co-venture of Safeway and the UK’s Tesco.
KC's View:
Subsequent to reading this press release, we went both to the Genuardi’s and Acme websites, and to the Safeway and Albertsons sites.

No surprise there. The Genuardi’s site was pretty much the same as the Safeway site, and the Acme had the same look as Albertsons.

While we know that these big companies have to amortize their expenditures across as many chains, markets and stores as possible, it occurred to us that Philadelphia shoppers are different from other shoppers around the country – not better or worse, just different, simply because they are a reflection of their own environments and families.

Which made us wonder if it might not make sense for chains like Albertsons and Safeway to do a bit more customization of their sites, with words and pictures that reflect specific markets and suggest some level of understanding that they are not catering to homogenous markets.

We’re not being negative here. Just wondering if an opportunity is slipping away because of the overwhelming urge to centralize everything.