Why doesn’t Trader Joe’s deliver?

The reasons why Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer delivery and curbside pickup

Woman holding a basket of groceries - Ever wondered why Trader Joe's doesn't offer delivery? Here's why

Unlike most of its competitors, Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer delivery and curbside pickup. While that’s quite surprising given the online shopping boom in 2020 and 2021, the nautical-themed grocery chain has a number of valid reasons why it’s not keen on launching an online shopping and delivery service.

Why does Instacart not have Trader Joe’s?

Delivery is a costly endeavor for grocery companies. In fact, in order to cut costs, many groceries have outsourced the logistics to third-party platforms like Instacart instead of hiring their own staff to handle online orders and delivery. Instacart and other similar platforms use a network of contract workers to pick customers’ orders off store shelves and deliver them to their homes.

Instacart doesn’t have Trader Joe’s because the retailer refuses to shell out a huge amount of money for online shopping and delivery.

“Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery – it’s a massive undertaking,” Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing Matt Sloan said in the company podcast Inside Trader Joe’s back in 2020. “It’s something that takes months or years to plan, build and implement, and it requires tremendous resources.”

Additionally, as reported by CNN, Trader Joe’s stores are already overcrowded and additional workers who will pick up online orders inside the store would make Trader Joe’s unbearable. Curbside pickup would also be very hard to implement for these reasons.

Unbeknownst to many, Trader Joe’s actually offered delivery in New York City for several years. It, however, ended the service in 2019 because of high costs and limited space.

“Instead of passing along unsustainable cost increases to our customers, removing delivery will allow us to continue offering outstanding values … and to make better use of valuable space in our stores,” a rep for the retail giant said at the time.

Aside from high costs and limited space, Trader Joe’s is also opposed to offering delivery and curbside pickup because these services don’t elevate their brand identity. With a company motto that says “the store is our brand,” the grocery chain’s image is largely wrapped up in its distinct food brands and nautical-themed locations that customers will only experience if they are inside the stores.

“Trader Joe’s is skeptical of change. They have something that’s working really well,” Benjamin Lorr, the author of The Secret Life of Groceries told CNN. “The chain has been very slow to adapt from its core model and core competency.”

What does Trader Joe’s lack of online presence mean to its business?

According to CNN, the supermarket chain’s resistance to extending its business online makes it vulnerable to losing shoppers who have gotten accustomed to the convenience of online ordering during the peak of the pandemic.

Consulting McKinsey projects that e-commerce will keep growing and reach 14% to 18% or more of all grocery sales in the next three to five years. So Trader Joe’s lack of online presence means it will miss out on this sizable part of the market, which will likely go to its competitors like Kroger and Whole Foods, which have spent billions of dollars on their online ordering systems.

Sources: Inside Trader Joe’s, CNN
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