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Online Services & Delivery 8

Fresh Direct ain't all that

ThorNYC | Mar 20, 2003 05:01 PM

I saw the postings about Fresh Direct coming to the UWS below so thought I'd add my two cents' worth.

Although I'm less than two short blocks away from a rather good supermarket, I was tired of lugging home all the heavy stuff, sodas, milk, OJ, soups. And their prices were pretty bad. I saw the advertisements for Fresh Direct, but the kicker was when Dannon shrinked their packaging of their yogurts from 8 oz to 6 oz, but the supermarket kept the price the same -- $1.19 each!

I love the concept. I only wish they carried a better selection of product. They carry a small variety of fresh orange juices, but not the one I prefer (and the only one I can drink), Low Acid. They carry 70%-free LactAid milk, but not the 100%-free. I understand they may have to limit the number and variety of products they can offer for their business model to work, but it's not that useful to me to use Fresh Direct if I still have to frequently stop by a supermarket for staples.

FD's interface is excellent, and I spend much less time in a cyber order than I do pushing my cart around the store. So far I haven't had any problem getting a delivery time slot (a 2-hour window, as late as 8-10 pm at night if you need to be home) that works for me.

Technical glitches thankfully have been rare -- one was after purchasing cream cheese, it suggested I might want some bagels to go with it, and I thought good idea, and clicked on the link, only to get an "Item Not Found" error message. And I did send them an e-mail with a few suggestions for better service and selection, and I didn't even get a form acknowledgement, much less a reply, back -- points off for that.

Their selection and prices of breads are excellent. Their loaves are *slightly* undercooked and then wrapped in a plastic bag. You finish baking them at home (15 min. in a 400 degree oven) to bring the crust and crunch back up.

The produce has been excellent, although I wish they carried Driscoll's strawberries, which I find are consistently superior to all other brands that I've tried.

The only catch is that you have to order a minimum of $40 of groceries, and pay a $4 delivery fee (their website says no tips are necessary, but like Kozmo.com before them, I wonder how long that will last). Since I still have to go to the supermarket on a regular basis, I've anally checked my FD receipt against prices in the supermarket for the EXACT same product, and found that even with the $4 delivery fee, I'm saving about 15% on the cost of the groceries I'm able to buy through FD, as well as enjoy the convenience of delivery.

But that's only equivalent to $6 every week or two for my small household (two people). If we ate out less often and cooked more ourselves, the savings would be better and it would be a better deal. But given that the savings aren't THAT great, that their selection in all areas (cereals, soups, etc.) is significantly poorer than the supermarket, and thus I still have to make regular trips to the supermarket and lug stuff home, I haven't been using FD that frequently. I'll probably use them before a large dinner party when I have to buy a large quantity of (often high-priced) items.

I'd recommend Fresh Direct if you have a large family or household, or live in an area that doesn't have a decent supermarket nearby. Otherwise, grocery shopping the old analog way still works best....

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