PrestoFresh in Crain's Cleveland Business

Paying the grocery store to come to you

PrestoFresh sees opportunity for food delivery service to grow, puts price on convenience for its customers

By KATHY AMES CARR

 

There are a lot of food trucks cruising around the streets of Cleveland these days, but that didn't deter Steve deMoulpied from moving forward with his concept for a mobile operation that caters to a unique market niche.

 

“When I moved back to Cleveland in 2013, I noticed the area didn't have an online grocery delivery service, which was something I relied on while working long hours while living in Chicago,” said deMoulpied, who worked as a management consultant in the Windy City. “Cuyahoga County alone has a population base with 1.2 million people, so I saw an opportunity to start my own business.”

 

Since launching in November his PrestoFresh online grocery delivery service, deMoulpied's customer base has grown to more than 500 registered accounts throughout Cuyahoga, Lorain and Lake counties.



Customer demographics range from professionals and the elderly to the visually impaired.



“People hear about an online grocery delivery business, and they think it's a luxury or that customers are being lazy,” deMoulpied said. “That's not the case at all. These are folks who are just trying to get their personal time back or eliminate the extra trouble it takes to getting to a grocery store.”



Customers choose from about 5,000 products online. Delivery fees ranging from $7.95 to $9.95 are assessed depending on the size of the order, with the minimum order beginning at $50. Customers then select a two-hour delivery window.



“So if you place your order at 1 p.m. today, we'll have it to you tomorrow. We're working on shrinking that lead time,” deMoulpied said.



A 7,000-square-foot warehouse in Warrensville Heights stores the items he buys through wholesalers.



DeMoulpied said he's initiating conversations with local companies, which could tout the service as a benefit to employees or can use it themselves.

 

No more schlepping


Accounting firm Novogradac & Co. is one such customer that in late January began placing weekly orders for produce, frozen meals, coffee and condiments through PrestoFresh, said office administrator Ashly Sass.



“This is our busy season, so we need to keep the kitchen fully stocked for our 45 employees, who are working long hours six days a week,” Sass said.



The service relieves Sass of shopping at Giant Eagle, then hauling all the groceries and cases of soda up to Novogradac's office on the ninth floor of Oswald Centre, 1100 Superior Ave., in downtown Cleveland. That task alone sometimes requires four or five other staff members to dedicate at least 15 minutes of their time to help with schlepping and unloading, which amounts to more than an hour of diverted productivity.



With PrestoFresh's prices comparable to Giant Eagle and the benefit of office delivery, Sass figures she can't afford to not use the service.



“It's a savings for us in the long run,” she said.



The startup seems to be joining a slow but emerging trend among online grocery services, said Nate Filler, president and CEO of Ohio Grocers Association, though he expressed some reservation on the business model's viability.



Buehler's Fine Foods offers an online ordering service, though customers pick up their orders at any of the store's five Ohio locations.



Grocery Heroes provides online grocery shopping and delivery through partnerships with independently owned grocers in Northwest Ohio, and according to its Facebook page, plans to expand into Northeast Ohio and Dayton this year.



And last year Amazon expanded its online grocery delivery service to its second and third West Coast markets — Los Angeles and San Francisco. The online retail giant had been offering the service for the last seven years in Seattle; Amazon attributed its slow rollout to making viable a business of providing an online grocery ordering service, according to news reports.

 

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20140330/SUB1/303309982/1009/TOC?Profile=1009

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