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Regional grocer delivers e-commerce


Grocery e-commerce has thus far mostly been the province of large vertical players like Kroger, mass merchandisers like Target and Wal-Mart, and online platforms like Amazon and Instacart.

However, a successful regional grocer is throwing its Stetson in the grocery e-commerce ring. Texas-based H-E-B, one of the nation's largest regional grocery retailers with more than 370 stores in Texas and Mexico, is making 50,000 food, drugstore and general merchandise products available to purchase and ship at its corporate site.

Orders can be shipped throughout Texas, to 46 states within the continental U.S. and to military bases worldwide. One positive result is that H-E-B shoppers can more easily obtain products not available at their local store

All customer orders are delivered using standard shipping and in some Texas cities may arrive the next day. Orders are shipped in one to three days and can be sent throughout Texas, to all states except California, Alaska and Hawaii, and to any Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO) address in the world.

Shipping fees vary and average $5 to $10 per order. Some products require a minimum order quantity, but all products are priced at the same prices in-store.

H-E-B has also created a "no hassle" return policy for online orders. Any product ordered online can be returned to any H-E-B store anywhere for an immediate full refund, or products can be sent back using free shipping.

"Now, even if you move outside of Texas, you'll still have a 'neighborhood H-E-B' just a click away,” said Martin Otto, chief merchant and CFO of H-E-B.

H-E-B’s decision to provide its own online delivery service, rather than turn to a third-party provider like Instacart, demonstrates the increasing pervasiveness of e-commerce and seamless commerce among retailers of all sizes in all verticals. Retailers like H-E-B may not yet be able to offer same-day delivery, but the online delivery gap is starting to close.

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