Pickup services could bring online grocery shopping to the masses
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For years, there have been two sides to the grocery wars: traditional stores, offering the convenience of last-minute stock-ups (so long as you don’t mind lines and crowds), and online delivery services, offering the ease of at-home shopping (so long as you live in or near a major city).
But with so much at stake in the $1 trillion U.S. grocery industry, a hybrid model is emerging that may challenge both: pickup, or ordering items online and collecting them at a nearby depot. The practice is already popular overseas, thanks to distributors like Tesco. Now U.S. chains like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter are starting pilot programs, while Relay Foods–the leading startup–has expanded from its home base in Charlottesville, Va., to Williamsburg, Va., and Baltimore.