I’m a big fan of “The Rewatchables” from The Ringer podcast network. Basically it’s a bunch of pop-culture-savvy writers talking about well-known movies they enjoy, well, re-watching. A couple months back they did Field of Dreams, which celebrated its 30th anniversary [ed. note: !!!] in April.
That’s kind of how I look at the online grocery space right now. Retailers are building out the massive infrastructure needed to support online grocery shopping — the shoppers just aren’t quite there yet.
I got to thinking about mullet-Kevin Costner and his cornfield when I saw a report from Gallup last week that said 81 percent of Americans never order groceries online. Yikes!
Why then, you might ask, is Kroger building out 20 robot-powered smart fulfillment warehouses and testing out self-driving delivery? Why did Giant Foods open up a physical facility only for ecommerce orders? Why are Ahold Delhaize, ShopRite and Albertsons experimenting with robotic micro-fulfillment centers? Why is Walmart looking to deliver groceries directly into your kitchen?
Because Field of Dreams. Retailers are building all the pieces out now to help shoppers eventually migrate online. And it looks like consumers are already starting to cotton to it.
That Gallup statistic is actually an improvement over a similar survey Gallup made last year, which found that 84 percent never grocery shopped online. A 3 percent drop in “nevers” is a 3 percent gain in people who have at least tried online shopping.
Online grocery shopping still has a way to go. Even I don’t do it, mostly because I put it off until the last minute and then realize on a Sunday night that Oh no! I need to pack kid lunches for summer camp tomorrow morning. That and the unfortunate green banana incident.
But in addition to more adults (slowly) buying groceries online, there is a generation of kids growing up with online grocery shopping being a totally normal way to get food. The Gallup data even bears that out, finding that 19 percent of adults with children under 18 bought groceries online at least monthly (that’s up from 14 percent from last year).
The point is, online grocery shopping is coming. They are building it, and we will (eventually) come for it.
Drinkbot will serve you cloud-based mocktails (and more)
Speaking of building something, Botrista is a startup looking to build out the robo-restaurant of the future.
Botrista is interesting because it’s starting with robot-made drinks — something every restaurant serves — and because of the company’s business model. Botrista provides the Drinkbot hardware to restaurants for free and charges its clients both on a per-drink basis (anywhere from $1.40 to $1.90 per drink) as well as for the ingredients to make any of the hundreds of recipes in the Drinkbot library.
The no-cost upfront model means more restaurants could adopt Drinkbot, and the cloud based drink library means that those restaurants could easily offer a rotating selection of drinks: from mocktails to juices to fusion teas.
Botrista is in a few trials in the Bay Area right now, but we’ll be watching the company to see if this new model will help accelerate automation in restaurants.
Cherry-oh! A new type of RTD coffee beverage
And speaking of something to drink: I love everything about coffee (making it, the smell, etc.) except the taste. Can’t stand it. It’s far too bitter for my sweetooth-y palate, so I’m intrigued by this new RTD Sparkling Coffee Cherry Tea from Riff Cold Brewed.
As Garrett Oden wrote for The Spoon:
The drink is made from cascara, the dried coffee “cherry” that’s left behind once the beans are harvested. Cold brewed and carbonated, Alter Ego is a slightly-sweet alternative to the super sugary drinks that are common in grocery stores and gas stations, with 6g of sugar, 35 calories, and 105mg of caffeine—roughly the same amount as a small cup of coffee.
In addition to this sweeter taste, it’s also better for the environment because it upcycles the coffee cherries instead of discarding them into giant piles that rot.
Oden tried a few cans of the sparkling stuff and found it to be “smooth, refreshing, and delicate.”
With Labor Day, and all the accompanying barbecues just around the corner, now might be the perfect time to put on Field of Dreams and try it out.