Co-op grocery adds online ordering, delivery service

By Rosemary McCoy

The Co-op Natural Foods has started an online ordering and delivery service.

The grocery store, which has member-owners but is also open to the public, picked up the refrigerated delivery van in September and started with “friends and family” orders earlier this month to work out the hiccups, said Patrick Sayler, general manager.

The website had a few technical issues at the beginning, but The Co-op is ready to start marketing the delivery service now, Sayler said.

“Our personal connection is what sets up apart,” he said. “We are building a system of our own to have control of the customer experience from the website to picking the groceries to delivery.”

The first delivery customer was Koch Hazard Architects, which designed the store’s space at 18th Street and Minnesota Avenue. Sayler said The Co-op plans to grow its business relationships, knowing that delivery of healthy snacks for breakrooms could be a popular service.

Customers can select their groceries online, and if they order by 10 a.m., the items are delivered that day between 3 and 7 p.m. Otherwise, they go out the next day.

There’s no minimum order, and the fee is $5.99 for locations within 10 minutes of the store, which is about seven to 10 miles, Sayler said. The fee goes up for every additional five minutes of drive time. Customers can select a one-hour window for delivery, and they have to be home to receive the order.

The entire inventory is available, with the exception of some deli items and a few limitations for bulk items such as the flours, grains and beans. Those items come as 1 pound, but customers can make a note if they want a smaller or larger amount.

Customers can specify how much produce they want to buy and how ripe and what size it should be.

The natural foods store has a reputation for fresh organic produce and “making sure that translates to the online order will be paramount,” Sayler said.

The Co-op’s mission played into every element of the service. Other delivery services use dry ice to keep items cold, Sayler said, but the store bought the refrigerated van because it’s more sustainable.

The Co-op hired a driver, and Sayler anticipates adding staff for delivery and database management as the service grows.

With all of that merchandise, “we still have about 1,000 items we need photos of for the website,” he said. “There’s a lot of little things to that that you don’t think of.”

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Co-op grocery adds online ordering, delivery service

The Co-op Natural Foods has started an online ordering and delivery service.

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