Meijer expands home delivery across the Midwest

The expansion of the program will create an estimated 10,000 jobs in 2017.

Meijer announced that it is expanding its home delivery service across six states in the Midwest, starting with Grand Rapids, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Soon to follow, the service will expand into other major markets in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin. 

Meijer will continue to partner with Shipt to give members the ability to shop 55,000 items using the Shipt smartphone app or place orders on shipt.com. Then groceries are delivered directly to a customers home in as little as one hour. 

"The way our customers shop continues to evolve," said Meijer Chairman Hank Meijer. "We believe the high-touch service that Shipt offers, coupled with what our customers love about shopping at Meijer, creates a new type of shopping experience."

The expansion of the program will create an estimated 10,000 jobs in 2017. 

Meijer first launched home delivery last fall in the Detroit area. Since September 2016, this demographic has placed more than 65,000 orders. 

"We learned from this initial test that customers continue to seek convenience and the response to the adoption rate of home delivery has delivered and exceeded our expectations," Art Sebastian, Meijer's director of digital shopping told FierceRetail. 

Sebastien says that the customers using home delivery are not demographically driven per se, instead they are all types of shoppers including starved college students, millennial moms, working professionals and Baby Boomers. 

When the program was initially launched, the partnership with Shift was new, so Sebastian recalls the biggest challenge was meeting the unanticipated demand. "Shift had to within a few days of launch recruit and hire more shoppers to meet the demand," he said. 

Shipt is a member-based service with either a monthly payment or $99 for a year. Once registered, a consumer gets unlimited grocery deliveries on all orders more than $35. All items are hand picked off the shelves but a Shipt personal shopper and then delivered by the same employee. 

RELATED: Meijer's curbside pickup returns

Shipt and Meijer join a growing trend in grocery delivery. The announcement came just days after food delivery startup Instacart, which delivers for retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco and Publix, received $400 million in funding. Now valued at $3.4 billion , Instacart will double its current 35-market footprint. 

Sebastian reassures that the physical grocery store is not going away.

"Stores are here to stay and we believe that customers need choices. Based on what is going on in their life at any given time, they may chose to go into store or want the convenience of the groceries brought to to them," he said. 

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