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The Boston Globe reports this morning that Albertsons-owned Shaws Supermarkets plans to develop an online capability that will allow it to compete in this venue with Ahold-owned Peapod.

"To be honest with you, we're not really doing this for the 1 or 2 percent of the people who might some day want us to deliver groceries to their home," Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston told the Globe. "We're doing it because we believe that the Internet and having a personal portal with your grocery company will be the key catalyst to driving people to change the shopping process in our stores."

Johnston did not say when Shaws would launch the service, but did say that it would use the Internet infrastructure that the company has used elsewhere in the country, and that it would be called Shaws.com in the New England markets served by the company.

Albertsons acquired Shaws from Sainsbury earlier this year for $2.1 billion.
KC's View:
The Globe correctly notes that the Boston area once was a hotbed of e-grocery competition, with companies like Homeruns, Shoplink and Streamline all testing out their premises in the densely populated, affluent marketplace. Only Peapod has survived of the major players, and while officials there might not admit it, we think it is fair to say that the entry of a new player helps to expand the pie for everyone. It also helps to legitimize the notion of e-grocery for people who haven’t yet tried it, which can only help sales.

E-grocery companies that didn’t make it failed because they were a little early and had excessive expectations. They were born in a time when all the hype suggested that they would change the world, and the survivors ended up finding that they only were going to be able to nudge it a bit.

As you get older, you learn that a nudge can be as effective as a shove, and can have longer-lasting effects.