- Whole Foods Market has added a feature to its mobile app to allow people to place to-go orders for prepared food items, a company spokesperson wrote in an email.
- The feature, which is available for iOS users at select stores, lets customers order delivery or pickup for items like hot pizzas, sandwiches, salads, entrées, sushi, soup and beverages. The feature also allows people to customize items, the grocer said on its website.
- The new feature follows recent developments in deli and prepared foods ordering, including Instacart's recent acquisition of software firm Foodstorm.
With the new feature, Whole Foods is looking to cut down the time people spend waiting for prepared food orders at stores.
Whole Foods highlighted how the new feature aims to save shoppers time. Instead of having to go to the prepared foods area to place their orders and then wait for them to be ready, they can do other things — like shop the rest of the store. For people placing delivery orders, they can add those lunch and dinner items to their digital baskets.
It could also help incentivize grocery delivery orders, especially following the uproar over Whole Foods' newly added $9.95 service fee on grocery delivery orders nationwide.
Grocers are increasingly leaning into prepared meals and grab-and-go selection and looking to make them available online. The Food Industry Association said in a recent report that grocers can boost their deli department and prepared foods to gain a competitive edge, noting that 39% of consumers view retail foodservice as a substitute for home-cooked and restaurant meals.
Other grocers like Shoprite and Schnucks have launched order-ahead deli tools in recent years. Last year, Publix rolled out a fresh meal pickup and delivery platform with Instacart that included the grocer's popular Pub Sub.
Earlier this month, Instacart said it acquired catering software company FoodStorm, which handles end-to-end order-ahead and catering services and will integrate into the e-commerce company's enterprise grocery solutions. Instacart said the acquisition followed demands from its grocery partners to make order management of prepared foods, custom items and catering easier.