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Last mile

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Note from the editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically boosted demand for online grocery, making it more important than ever for grocers to improve the economics and the customer experience behind the last mile.

One solution has been to let customers do most of the work. Grocery pickup, which pre-pandemic was already growing faster than many companies anticipated, has taken off over the past few months. Retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Target have raced to open up order slots and expand the service to more locations, while at the same time incorporating new technology that makes it more convenient.

The economics of delivery have long bedeviled retailers as they’ve continued to largely rely on third-party companies to cover the last mile. Instacart has come out a big winner during the pandemic, expanding its customer base by millions on the way to a fresh $13.7 billion valuation. But retailers are also game to try new options like autonomous delivery. And they’re looking for ways to further recover margins through automated warehouses, dark stores and other fulfilment innovations.

As the pandemic continues to upend e-commerce, grocers will continue to try and find ways to make the last mile work better for their businesses. In this report, you’ll learn about:

  • The dark-store trend during the pandemic
  • How pickup is evolving
  • Strategies to prepare for a new e-commerce future
  • Instacart’s evolving business
  • Target’s push to improve delivery
  • FreshDirect's plans to increase speed

We hope you enjoy this deep dive into the rapidly evolving last mile.

Jeff Wells Senior Editor

Should grocery stores go dark?

As safety concerns mount, a handful of retailers across the country have temporarily converted their stores to pickup and delivery service only. More may follow suit.

How grocery pickup is evolving

As demand grows along with the competition, retailers are trying to erase wait times, improve fulfillment and even reach shoppers away from the store.

6 strategies for grocers preparing for the new e-commerce future

Retail experts share insights into how food retailers can retool their online operations in response to the pandemic.

Instacart raises $225M in new funding

The grocery delivery service, which has seen its market share surge as consumers shop more online, is now valued at $13.7 billion.

Target to acquire Deliv tech as the last-mile startup shuts down

The retailer will use Deliv's proprietary batching and routing technology to research and develop more efficient delivery methods.​

FreshDirect goes for speed

The company that made its name in planned delivery wants to expand same-day service throughout its coverage area. But is it too late to the game?