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Amazon Pilots New Farm-to-Door Delivery Service in SoCal

By Sherrell Dorsey

The burgeoning business of tech and food delivery has long offered many of us the 21st-century convenience of kicking the grocery store shopping habit for good. Armed with apps, websites and on-demand couriers, the need for setting foot into the grocery store check-out line is all but becoming obsolete in highly urbanized cities — and the trend continues to expand.

Not surprisingly, the online monolith Amazon has once again claimed dominion over the supply chain nuances of on-demand food delivery with the announcement of its newest business — farm-to-table produce deliveries as a pilot across Southern California.

Working in conjunction with startup company Fresh Nation, Amazon promises to deliver seasonal, handpicked produce bundles within a three-hour delivery window direct from your local farmers market.

Fresh Nation, the brainchild of Tony Lee, a former e-commerce professional turned farmers market manager, launched in 2013 in Lee’s hometown of Danbury, Connecticut. After spending a year cultivating a database of farmers markets and vendors across the country, Lee piloted the back-end supply-chain of the startup through a series of launches in Southern California and parts of the East Coast before shopping the refined product to Amazon.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Fresh Nation orders offer baskets and individual items, available for $39 for small sizes and $59 for large sizes within 36 hours of harvest. Currently, service-area customers must be Amazon Prime Fresh members ($299 annually) and will not have to pay additional delivery fees.

As told to the Los Angeles Times:

"Our mission is to bring fresh local food to millions of people," [Lee] said. "The only way you can do that is partner with a company like Amazon that has millions of customers."

No stranger to the barriers and nuances of click-to-order food delivery, Amazon sharpened its skills with its Amazon Fresh business that launched in Seattle in 2007. It has since expanded to portions of the Los Angeles area, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City and Philadelphia.

With the new Fresh Nation model, “shoppers” pick up and package food orders into individual tote bags at each market based on the pre-ordered demand. Bags are then transported via refrigerated trucks to the Amazon distribution center in San Bernardino, California, where they are sorted and sent out for delivery.

Amazon isn’t the only tech company actively connecting busy consumers with the modern conveniences of click-to-order healthy groceries without a fuss.

The birth of Instacart, Postmates and long-time competitor Fresh Direct prove that the multi-channel structure of doorstep service is not only a viable business model, but also one that continues to grow.

Consumers seeking to forgo the faithful walk down the grocery aisle are willing to pay a premium for the service, which can add an extra 15 to 30 percent to grocery bills.

For instance: A $40 grocery spend from Whole Foods in downtown Atlanta equates to roughly $57 when factoring in a $10 service fee and a 15 percent tip for your courier to fetch and deliver the items — a small price to pay for convenience for those less price-sensitive. Not to mention, grocery deliveries are a viable side income for contract workers willing to put in the leg-work.

The world of on-demand service and products delivered at a break-neck pace is surely nothing new. Moreover, companies are expertly building brands that make the model efficient and less expensive to operate.

Consequently, as models continue to improve, food delivery can have direct implications in solving much larger issues such as getting healthy food to immobile senior citizens, helping to increase fresh food consumption tethered to the goal of reducing food waste and serving as a blueprint for food pantries delivering food to clients in need.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sherrell Dorsey headshot

Sherrell Dorsey is a social impact storyteller, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. Sherrell speaks and writes frequently on the topics of sustainability, technology, and digital inclusion.

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