Home Delivery is the Future of Local Food

This year, I’ve been on a mission to test grocery delivery services to understand the changes that are happening in our market

I am surprised by how much I enjoy Whole Foods’ home delivery service as a busy father of two young children. I simply log-in to the “Prime Now” app during the day, place my order, and have the order show up on my doorstep later that evening in a two-hour window.

The delivery is “free” with a suggested tip for the driver. I always leave a $5 tip.

This is a huge time-saver for me that I can use to spend time with my kids, clean the house, exercise or relax. 

I am not alone. A recent study suggests that 60% of urban shoppers are buying groceries online for home delivery. 

Put it another way: in 10 years, do you expect more people will be buying food online for home delivery or less?

If you answer “more” to that question, you need to start to think about home delivery as part of your farm marketing plan.

We are doing a small pilot of home delivery in Pittsburgh with Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance this season so I’m deep into thinking about how Harvie’s home delivery capabilities can help farms compete in this changing landscape.

We have many tools built into the platform including home delivery areas, up-charges for home delivery, a way collect home delivery instructions from customers, exports for the RoadWarrior app (for delivery route optimization) and more.

Some things to think about:

  • You need to charge for it. I created a spreadsheet to think through cost-per-mile, salary, and density of deliveries to come up with a base cost for home delivery. It depends on many factors, but I can’t see you doing it much less than $7.50/delivery. This cost must be passed on to the consumer in some way.
  • Choose a defined delivery zone, probably in a higher density urban area to start is the best bet.
  • Will you do the delivery or outsource it to another company? Local courier companies or services like Lyft and Uber can make sense.
  • No more pick-up locations for farm share takes away that logistical issue for you and for your customers.
  • It’s much more attractive and convenient for customers and it supercharges your marketing because you don’t have to worry about how close each person is to a drop site as long as they are in the delivery area.
  • Consider going 100% home delivery or this may be a good way to start a farm share program if you have not done one before.
  • Increase your product line from other local producers so you can fill more of the grocery budget for each customer to make the cost of delivery more worthwhile for the member.

My goal with Harvie is to grow the market for local food beyond the true believers who have supported local farms in the past. Home delivery is a part of that puzzle because it removes many of the barriers to joining a farm share program.

I would be happy to discuss the home delivery strategy for your farm in the future. Just reach out when you are ready to discuss!

-Simon Huntley, CEO & Founder, Harvie