A couple months ago, I was given the opportunity to be a beta-beta tester for Alice.com. (A gamma tester?) It’s a dry goods grocery delivery service where you place an order online and then have the items shipped directly to your home.
The prices are comparable to what you might find in a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, but the products are sized like what you would buy in a grocery store or pharmacy. All with the added convenience of not having to go to a store (and there is no charge for shipping). You can set up a shopping list and reminders, so that every few weeks or a couple times a year (you set the schedule) you receive a notification from Alice.com telling you that you might be getting low on toilet paper or deodorant or shampoo.
I’ve gone shopping on Alice, paid for my order, and received a shipment. For as much as I ordered, I was genuinely surprised at how little packaging they used. It all fit in a reasonably sized box and the box broke down easily to go into our recycling bin. Everything about the process was convenient.
And I think that is why I liked it so much. It’s convenient. I’m incredibly busy and the last thing I want to do is have to run to the store to pick up toilet paper when we inevitably run out at 10:00 at night. Now, I get a notice once a month asking me if I need toilet paper, and if my supplies are low, I order more. I make a few clicks with my mouse in less than a minute and toilet paper appears two days later.
Right now, since they’re still in beta, they’re only carrying the major brands. But, they’re in negotiations with smaller manufacturers to increase their inventory. They actually carried my favorite brand of all of the supplies I ordered, so I didn’t notice that anything was missing. During testing, though, I noted one or two types of products that weren’t on their inventory and poof! after I suggested the product it appeared on the list a few days later. So, I know they’re listening to consumer requests. The interface is easy to use, too, and these cute little cartoon people guide you through the site:
I think about my friends who have infants at home and barely have time to shower, and how nice it would be for them if diapers just appeared on their doorsteps. I think about my friends who live in downtown New York who have to take 20 minute train rides to get to the closest big box store, and how much time it would save them if their dry good items could simply be delivered. Since I buy the vast majority of my food through our local farmer’s market, Alice.com saves me from having to make a second shopping trip to the grocery store. It’s extremely convenient for busy people. It removes an errand/chore from my weekly schedule and allows me to spend that time doing something that matters more to me. It’s simple and uncluttered, for my life.
Granted, this service isn’t for everyone. If you like going to the grocery store and smelling products and first touching what you’re going to buy, then you won’t like getting your dry goods delivered. It also takes 15 to 20 minutes to put together your initial order (at least that is what it took me) which isn’t much of a time saver on that first trip. Subsequent trips are just seconds, however, since you have an established shopping list. Also, if you buy a lot of small production goods, it might take a while for those to become available as contracts are negotiated between Alice and those manufacturers.
What do you think about dry goods being delivered to your door? To me, it’s a lot like Netflix or Amazon, just with the specific grocery angle. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, you can sign up for a free account and be a beta tester, too, at Alice.com. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.