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?