Offering delivery by third-party startups might just be the fastest-moving trend in retail of late. Over the past few months, such chains as Aldi, Costco, Fry’s Electronics, Publix, Walmart and Wegmans — and even McDonald’s and Taco Bell — have announced partnerships with outside companies in a bid to ramp up delivery options for their customers. The trend is fueling strong growth at the likes of Deliv, Google Express, GoShare, Instacart, Shipt and Uber, which are hiring thousands of drivers to meet the demand, experts say.
Publix, for one, announced a partnership with Instacart this past June as part of a strategy to offer same-day home delivery in all Publix markets by 2020. The Lakeland, Fla.–based grocery chain, which operates 1,154 stores across the Southeast, is already working with Instacart to deliver in select markets in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee. For the past couple of years, meanwhile, many shoppers have also been able to use the app-based Shipt service to order groceries from Publix. Rachel Elias Wein, a real estate strategy consultant to national owners and retailers including Publix, says Publix now enjoys an edge when it comes to delivery of online orders. “Nationally, online grocery sales average less than 2 percent, but at Publix that number is 2.8 percent,” Wein said. “Fulfillment by both Instacart and Shipt has put Publix ahead of the curve in implementing omni-channel solutions for its customers.”
“We were looking at our year-over-year growth just yesterday, and the number was 484 percent,” said Shaun Savage, founder and CEO of San Diego–based GoShare. “Our business is growing month over month, year over year.” App-based GoShare, which was launched in 2015, is often described as “the Uber for trucks”: Its freelance drivers use their own pickup trucks, cargo vans or box trucks to deliver larger items to users who hail them through the app. “Within the first two months of launching GoShare,” Savage recalled, “West Elm contacted us and was like, ‘Hey, would you be interested in doing deliveries for our store?’ That’s how we got started in retail. It just took off from there.”
GoShare drivers now routinely deliver large items from such retailers as Ace Hardware, Big Lots, HomeGoods, IKEA, Marshalls, Pier 1 Imports and Sears, as well as from dozens of smaller antiques and furniture stores, says Savage. With its diverse inventory of bulky boxes, flat-screen TVs and furniture, Costco has worked with GoShare in California, Georgia and New Jersey at a total of 21 warehouse clubs.