When I first heard about the new e-commerce site, Alice.com, I scoffed. Fresh Direct in the New York City area is once again growing after suffering some setbacks. And Peapod and Amazon show some signs of success and growth in their grocery delivery business. But Alice.com is being pitched as the hottest new delivery site and service, in part because it is both Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), i.e., stuff you buy at the grocery store, manufacturer friendly and consumer friendly.
For CPG companies, Alice.com offers a way to dip their toes back into the waters of selling directly to consumers and bypassing retailers who increasingly compete with them by offering plain-wrap-no-more, attractively packaged, directly competitive private label products.
For consumers, negotiated prices, free shipping and built-in coupons combined with reminders to re-order your favorites promises to help ensure that you will never run out of toilet paper or other essentials ever again. Plus they have several bloggy and social media community features which help Alice really feel like a trusted friend you can get to know.
Part of my initial scoffing was because Alice.com doesn't eliminate the need to go to the grocery store for perishible items. Delivery service makes more sense to me in someplace like Manhattan where there are not ginormous sprawling suburban grocery stores, Walmart Superstores and Super Targets where you can fill all your needs at once from tomatoes to toothpaste. But, if you're still going to have to go to the grocery store anyway, why would you spend the time filling up your cart both in person and virtually?
Then I started reading bloggers writing about Alice.com and I was reminded of why, when you are building or marketing a business, you always do your homework and research because often, you are not the customer. And, despite my CPG smarts, I am not the customer here.
Kristen at Cool Mom Picks, however, is the customer. She signed up to be a beta tester for the site and fell in love. One reason?
Plus, you get it all delivered right to your doorstep. That's got to be at least one less grocery store tantrum a month.
I don't have to wrangle kids plus I work from home and have a flexible schedule. Although it is still hard sometimes for me to get away from the computer to do my grocery shopping I don't have anyone else to shop with or around. If all you have to run into the store for is a gallon of milk and a pound of apples and the rest can be delivered, I bet it would be a useful service for families of more than one.
And from the perspective of CPG manufacturers, I think the era of worrying about annoying retail partners by bypassing them and pursuing direct sales is long past. And the opportunity to compete with private label while potentially delighting consumers is an opportunity worth testing. I appreciate hearing bloggers describe how they are finding Alice.com useful but it will interesting to watch how adoption and use develops.
What do you think? Does Alice.com seem like a service that is opening a useful door to manufacturers? As a shopper is it something that seems like it would be a helpful tool?
Tom Cunniff at Consumer Packaged Goods, Outside The Box: Alice.com: CPG E-Commerce Revolution?
The mesmerizing promise of milk, Mallomars and maple syrup via modem is as old as the Internet itself.
Ben Parr at Mashable: Alice.com Launches to Assure You Never Run Out of Toilet Paper Again
Alice.com is launched the open beta version of its new web-based tool today. The startup’s goal is still the same: to make sure you never have to run to the store again because you’re out of batteries, soap, shampoo, coffee, toilet paper, or other common household items. Alice also adds planning and budgeting features, smart reminders, and coupons to give the grocery store a run for its money.
Leena Rao at TechCrunch: Alice.com Is Your Housekeeper And Personal Shopper Rolled Into One
The basic idea behind Alice.com, which raised $4.3 million in funding last fall, is that the site is an open platform for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, like Procter & Gamble, to sell directly to consumers instead of going through retail channels like Target or Wal-Mart. On the consumer side, Alice.com lets users create a profile of their household (how many people, kids etc.) and then the site will keep track of items and reminds users with emails when they are running low and need to reorder. Each shipment is bundled together in a single ‘Alice’ box, delivered directly to the consumer’s door, with no shipping costs attached.
Erin at Unclutterer: Convenient dry goods delivery from Alice.com (and be sure to check out the helpful discussion in the comments)
I think about my friends who have infants at home and barely have time to shower, and how nice it would be for them if diapers just appeared on their doorsteps. I think about my friends who live in downtown New York who have to take 20 minute train rides to get to the closest big box store, and how much time it would save them if their dry good items could simply be delivered. Since I buy the vast majority of my food through our local farmer’s market, Alice.com saves me from having to make a second shopping trip to the grocery store. It’s extremely convenient for busy people. It removes an errand/chore from my weekly schedule and allows me to spend that time doing something that matters more to me. It’s simple and uncluttered, for my life.
Granted, this service isn’t for everyone. If you like going to the grocery store and smelling products and first touching what you’re going to buy, then you won’t like getting your dry goods delivered. It also takes 15 to 20 minutes to put together your initial order (at least that is what it took me) which isn’t much of a time saver on that first trip. Subsequent trips are just seconds, however, since you have an established shopping list. Also, if you buy a lot of small production goods, it might take a while for those to become available as contracts are negotiated between Alice and those manufacturers.
Cross posted at BlogHer.