Is a grocery delivery service profitable

Order fresh groceries online : Six delivery services in a practical test

Now, what everyone was trembling about has happened: For a few weeks now, Amazon has been delivering not only books, vacuum cleaners and baby rompers, but also milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables to your doorstep at the click of a mouse. The overpowering US corporation is venturing into what is probably the most sensitive area of ​​online retail - fresh food. And that in a country where the pressure on prices is enormous and the demands of consumers are high. The delivery area is initially limited to the Berlin and Potsdam area. But the world of the grocery trade already seems out of joint.

It seemed so clearly regulated: Edeka, Rewe, Aldi and the Schwarz Group with Lidl and Kaufland split the business among themselves. They dominate 85 percent of the stationary market. Now someone from outside the industry is poaching in your area, someone who does not train specialist meat sausage salespeople - but has billions of customer addresses.

Edeka, the market leader in Germany, hesitated until the very end to move its business to the Internet. Probably also because many merchants in the association fear that they will compete with themselves. So far, Edeka24.de has only offered products from the so-called dry range. But lo and behold: “We will soon also start shipping fresh items,” the service informed its customers in mid-May and promised a 20 percent discount on everything because they had to make space.

Suppliers deliver in cities with many supermarkets, of all places

What is not clear from the email: With the takeover of the Kaiser’s Tengelmann chain, Edeka also inherited its Bringmeister delivery service, a merger is probably only a matter of time. The new Bringmeister slogan “We'll get it all in Berlin” may not whet everyone's appetite. But what is most important to the new owner is the emphasis on the word "whole". The attacker Amazon had excluded all kinds of postcodes from its service at the start, but now supplies the entire city area and Potsdam. Kaufland has also been traveling exclusively in Berlin and Potsdam since October 2016. Bring24 focuses on Cologne. In cities of all places, where the nearest supermarket is seldom more than a few minutes away, the online services come into play.

Rewe now carries its products under the roof or in the storage cellar in as many as 75 cities. Last year the company was able to increase its online sales by 60 percent to 100 million euros. Even so, the division is not profitable in the seventh year after its introduction, the board recently admitted.

On the whole, online orders in grocery stores still only make up a share of just one percent. Analysts predict that ten to twelve percent will be possible in the medium term, as is also achieved in other product segments. In any case, it is about a lot of money: The food trade in Germany has a total volume of more than 175 billion euros.

We tested six major suppliers and ordered fresh milk, cheese, ham, yogurt, organic eggs, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

Who will fill the fridge for us tomorrow? The race is on.

AMAZON

Since Amazon has also been supplying fresh groceries, the US company has now offered customers an all-round supply. If you have Amazon, you no longer have to leave the house. One can reject that for social reasons. However, this does not affect the quality of the new “Fresh” delivery service. Prime customers who live in Berlin or Potsdam can use it. The selection is huge, there are over 80,000 fresh products. Amazon also works with partners such as Butter Lindner, Rausch and Basic. However, they are not eligible for same-day delivery. So I ordered from the standard offer - at eleven in the morning - and got a time slot between 4pm and 6pm. The supplier arrived at five, the delivery was complete, well chilled, fresh, undamaged and packed in environmentally friendly paper bags. There is no delivery fee for purchases of 40 euros or more, but after a one-month free period the service costs just under ten euros per month. It doesn't matter. A price comparison with the nearby Edeka store shows that Amazon is significantly cheaper for all goods. Heike Jahberg

REWE

The fact that online shopping at Rewe takes a long time is primarily due to the offer: Fresh milk? 19 offers. Cheese? 246. Phew, making a decision is even more difficult than in the branch. In addition, the minimum order value is 40 euros. So add a six-pack of water to the shopping cart, which I don't like to carry up to the sixth floor, and a packet of coffee that should never be missing. Done. When all the groceries on the shopping list have been ticked off and the required amount has been reached, I feel relieved. At least briefly. Then I read: The lettuce cannot be delivered right now. Instead, Rewe suggests the much more expensive salad mix or an iceberg lettuce. Oh, and I can't get the strawberries I want either. But blueberries. Or bananas. So keep brooding.

For the delivery time between seven and nine o'clock the next day, Rewe then charges another 4.90 euros. If I had the things brought to me in the evening or on a free Saturday, it would cost me one euro more. Quite a bit, for that the purchase has to be worthwhile. In the morning I get an SMS that is too punctual that my doorbell will ring soon. What is true. The driver is friendly, nothing is missing. The delivery works so well that the annoying purchase is almost forgotten. Marie Rövekamp

BRING MASTER

The saying sounds cheeky: "Bringmeister takes care of all of Berlin." This is how Edeka advertises the delivery service that the Kaiser’s chain has taken over. Online there should be a selection “like in the supermarket”. This is confirmed at first glance. The shopping basket quickly fills up with milk, eggs, tomatoes, strawberries, cream and biscuits. However, it becomes difficult with fruit yogurt. The page shows 63 varieties - but most of them say: "Available again soon". Ironically, I won't find anything with a commonplace product.

Maybe this is due to the order time on Friday evening - a few days later yoghurt can be ordered again in umpteen variations. This weekend it has to be done without. But I'm surprised to be able to order sausage from the fresh food counter myself, and I choose ham. Unfortunately, it is not included in the delivery - according to the delivery note, it was not available after all. The other goods arrive punctually and safely. The service on this Saturday evening costs three euros. However, depending on the day and time of the week, delivery costs can go up to six euros. And: you have to shop for at least 35 euros. Carla Neuhaus

PURCHASE LAND

A few clicks and the shopping is done - but it doesn't go that fast with the order on the Kaufland homepage. This is because the product search by keyword does not work well enough. The range of products for this is huge. After the shopping list has been processed, however, the invoice shows a price of well under 40 euros - the minimum order value for free delivery. So I take advantage of the moment and put a family pack of detergent and various drinks in the virtual shopping basket.

The delivery is to take place two days later within a two-hour time window in the evening. An SMS informs me that the agreed date will be kept and that "Julian" will deliver the delivery. A short time later, a friendly young man is dragging my purchases to the third floor. “Did you buy all of this yourself?” My little son asks the man, impressed. I am particularly pleased with the complete delivery and the freshness of the products: everything is flawless. Sarah Kramer

ALLYOUNEEDFRESH

How do they know I have a thing for coconut yogurt? I have never ordered groceries online before. But of 200 conceivable flavors, AllyouneedFresh, a subsidiary of the world's largest logistics group Deutsche Post DHL, is the first to offer me coconut. Creepy. It doesn't go much faster than in the supermarket around the corner, which is probably also due to the fact that AllyouneedFresh, according to its own information, has around three times as many products in its range as a conventional store. But unfortunately no strawberries - currently, they say. It is high season. I take that too with composure, but wonder why the site repeatedly offers me kiwis as an alternative. Registration is straightforward: enter your email address, choose your password. Payment by PayPal, invoice, Amazon Payments, credit card and instant transfer is possible without any extra charge. Delivery is free from 40 euros.

I order at 10 p.m. and can choose a two-hour time slot for delivery on the following evening. The appointments from ten o'clock onwards have been taken. I am reminded of the delivery one hour in advance by SMS and email. The friendly DHL driver arrives on time - and calls his cell phone because he couldn't find the clearly visible doorbell. In the end everything is there. Lettuce and tomatoes also look fresh. The organic hay milk only has three days until the best-before date. As an unsolicited extra, there is a free cup of vegan crème-fraîche substitute. And four plastic bags for a purchase that I would have put in two large paper bags. In terms of price, the provider feels between Penny and Rewe. Can be done again. Kevin P. Hoffmann

MYTIME

The product search is easy, the range is extensive - I can find everything I need. Mytime lacks only organic variants: after entering the search term “organic ham”, for example, the site only presents me with a glass of Hipp ham noodles. In comparison, some things are a few cents more expensive than in the stationary supermarket that I usually frequent. As a new customer, I get a discount of five euros for this. But that's only available because I have an order value of 30 euros.

Then the astonishment: It is Monday morning and I can select Saturday as the earliest delivery date. There is a public holiday in between - but only one! Out of necessity I remove a few items from the shopping cart that I need for a meal on Friday. I have to go out again for that. I immediately slide below the 30 euro mark - the discount is gone. In the end, Mytime unexpectedly not only adds 4.99 euros to shipping costs, but also a 4.90 fee for “freshness guarantee” because some of the food has to be refrigerated. He should reach me on Saturday between eight and twelve o'clock. “Saturday – Monday” is specified for the other products. How should one plan there?

On Saturday, outside in summer, I wait for the messenger. Eight, nine and ten o'clock pass, and finally eleven and twelve too - so much for the name “Mytime”. Even though I gave my cell phone number, nobody answers. Are they still coming? The doorbell rings at 12:30 p.m. Only when asked, does the DPD driver explain the delay by saying that “there has been a system failure”. After all: all products are there - and of great quality. I finally go out into the sun with some wonderful strawberries. Maris Hubschmid

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