Saunders: You couldn't find anyone who hated the grocery store more.Last April, she stopped going altogether. Instead, every Wednesday, she logs onto SimonDelivers' Web site from her home computer. She browses through descriptions of groceries, clicks on what she wants, then makes her order. Her entire shopping trip now takes as little as 10 minutes.
Sherman: You gonna eat 'em all up this week, am I going to have to bring more next week too?The company started delivering groceries last April. That was a year and a half after Simon Foster, a 38-year-old Briton, began raising funds from private investors. Now he's CEO of the Twin Cities first online grocery delivery service.
Foster: The hardest thing is trying to aim where the duck will be, because every time you try to aim where the duck is now, it's too late.And sometimes you miss. Foster says 10 to 15 percent of a recent week's orders got lost in the shuffle. That's because his computer system couldn't handle the growing volume.
Foster: What the Internet has afforded us, and what our model lets us do, is to inject good old-fashioned customer service back into the equation without compromising on the three things that grocery stores have delivered us, which are, quite frankly, huge selection, generally very good quality and low cost.Foster says someday he plans to offer his service in other cities. He won't be alone. Several companies like Illinois-based Webvan, and Peapod in San Francisco are spending heavily to build online grocery businesses.
Dahlman: I don't think any of these companies have come up with the way to profitably deliver groceries to the consumer, and so the answer hasn't been achieved yet.Simon Foster isn't saying how much he's losing; as the head of a private company he doesn't have to. Foster will have to hope his backers stick around until he proves that Simon can deliver.