Kroger, a Cincinnati-based grocery chain, is confronting e-commerce behemoths Walmart and Amazon with its new delivery service, Kroger Ship.
The service was announced Aug. 1, making it available in Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, and, as of late, Atlanta.
“Our customers have been telling us they want different options as far as purchasing groceries,” Kroger spokesman Felix Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This gives our customers another option.”
Customers of Kroger Ship pay a fee of $4.99 for each order that’s less than $35. Any grocery order more than $35 is free. The company also offers promotional deals for first-time customers.
Kroger has 2,800 grocery stores across the country. The company already offers online ordering and local delivery at many locations through Instacart. The new service would use Kroger employees, Turner said.
The company plans to add distribution centers, although at least for now they won’t be in metro Atlanta, Turner said. “We want to get to areas where we are presently not located.”
Kroger says its online orders are up 66 percent from a year ago.
For years, Amazon was in front of the pack, surging to dominate online shopping, benefiting without the burden of managing and paying for an entrenched network of “brick-and-mortar” stores.
But analysts say big retailers have become more aggressive about using their stores in concert with their online business. Customers order online, go to pick up their merchandise in the store and often go on to buy more items once they are there.
“We definitely still want you to come through the store,” Turner said.
Before long, Turner said, the company could eventually imitate Amazon’s one-day service.
“That is probably in the works,” Turner said.
More information on Kroger Ship is at ship.kroger.com.