Grocery Ordering, Delivery Services Expand in Tulsa
By MEAGAN COLLINS
As new technologies continue to emerge, one industry striving to keep pace is the modern-day grocery store.
Most recently this is being seen in the growth of online grocery ordering and delivery services, which are moving steadily through the country, including locally.
While these services are still relatively new in Greater Tulsa, a handful of viable options are available: Amazon’s Prime Pantry, Instacart, Walmart and Schwan’s, with locally-owned Akin’s as a future prospect.
Amazon.com: Prime Pantry
Amazon.com, founded in 1994, started Prime Pantry in the U.S. in 2014.
“Amazon Prime Pantry gives Prime members exclusive access to low-priced everyday essentials in everyday sizes,” says Catie Kroon, an Amazon spokesperson.
An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year. Shipping is free with five qualifying items; otherwise, it is a flat rate of $5.99 per box.
Prime Pantry plans to lower its cost in the future, notes Kroon, in order to expand its market.
Amazon created Prime Pantry as a way to provide convenience at a reasonable cost for its customers, she continues. “We are currently focusing on offering the best possible shopping experience.”
Instacart was founded in 2012 to offer a convenient shopping experience and to save customers time, says Tulsa-area manager Matt Goff.
In July, Instacart came to Tulsa and has partnered with area stores, including Whole Foods, Petco, Costco, Natural Grocers and Reasor’s, to deliver groceries to area customers.
“Tulsa is on our road map to reaching as many households as possible as quickly as possible,” says Goff.
With the Instacart website or phone app, customers can choose to pay between $5.99 and $7.99, depending on the amount of groceries and time involved. Customers can also purchase an express membership for $149 a year, which includes unlimited deliveries.
Instacart has hired over 100 Tulsa-area shoppers and plans to add more employees as its customer base grows, says Goff.
Wal-Mart Stores was founded in 1962.
The corporation began its free in-store grocery pick-up service in 2015; it currently offers the service at all 11 Tulsa-area stores.
Customers can order their groceries online and choose their desired pick-up time and location; they receive a phone call when their groceries are ready.
Pick-up customers also have designated parking spots that help to further expedite their experience.
As an additional service, Wal-Mart offers personal shoppers who shop for customers’ groceries and deliver them to customers’ vehicles.
“Personal Shoppers go through week-long training to learn the technology and to learn how to pick the right produce and meat better than I could myself,” says Wal-Mart spokesperson Molly Blakeman.
There are no mark-ups added to items that are being picked up; the price that customers see on the shelves is what they pay, she says.
Schwan’s Home Service
Schwan’s Home Service was founded in 1952 by Marvin Schwan. Today, Schwan’s delivers over 300 products across the country.
“We are the first and largest direct-to-home provider of frozen foods in the nation,” says Schwan’s spokesperson Pat Anderson.
Customers can place their order online and over the phone, through an app, or with an area route sales representative ().
If a customer is not home, an will drop off the order at the scheduled delivery time in a reusable freezer bag that keeps the food frozen for hours.
Mail-order delivery is also available if there are no ’s in the area.
Akin’s Natural Foods
For those looking to support local businesses, Akin’s Natural Foods is a natural grocery option, founded in Tulsa in 1935. Since then, Akin’s has provided the Tulsa area with natural groceries from its three locations.
At present, the company has put its in-store pick-up on hold to focus on the relaunch of its website. The new website is expected to launch in September.