Harps Food Stores joins delivery game with Instacart partnership

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 447 views 

Springdale-based grocery store chain Harps Food Stores has partnered with Instacart Inc. to deliver groceries in select markets, including several in Arkansas. The service started Nov. 8.

Customers can order groceries online, via the Harps website or by going directly to Instacart’s website or mobile app on their iPhone or Android device. Shoppers select their city/store, add items to their virtual cart, then choose a delivery window (within one hour or up to five days in advance) and check out. An Instacart shopper will then pick, pack and deliver the order in the designated timeframe.

“We are a customer-focused company and are always looking for new ways to make shopping more convenient,” Harps Vice President of Marketing David Ganoung said in a statement. “The option of home delivery complements our dedication to providing our customers with convenience and quality, making it even easier to shop with us.”

Harps had revenue of $736 million in 2017, according to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s annual list of Largest Private Companies published in June. That was up 6.36% from 2016. The company’s store footprint covers Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, primarily in smaller, rural areas, and Harps will open its 90th store Wednesday (Nov. 14) in Claremore, Okla.

There are 12 stores participating in Harps’ soft launch — Joplin, Mo., Norman and Fort Gibson, Okla., De Soto, Kan. and Arkansas stores in Cabot, Vilonia, Dover, Searcy, Bald Knob, Alma and Cedarville. Home delivery is also available from the Harps’ Price Cutter location in Van Buren.

A company spokeswoman told the Business Journal the service will be introduced to more areas as soon as January 2019.

A minimum grocery order of $10 is required, according to Harps. Any orders between $10 and $34.99 will charge a $9.99 delivery fee. Orders $35 or more charge a $5.99 delivery fee. For new customers, Harps will waive the delivery fee on their first Instacart order.

“Instacart is proud to partner with Harps to make grocery shopping effortless for customers and families across the United States,” Sarah Mastrorocco, Instacart’s vice president of business development, said in a statement. “In partnership with Harps, Instacart is again expanding its North American footprint, which today reaches more than 70% of U.S. households, to deliver customers the groceries they want from the local retailers like Harps that have been a part of their families for generations.”

Founded in 1930 as Harps Cash Grocery, Harps Food Stores has been 100% employee-owned since 2001. With 4,200 employees, it is the largest employee-owned company headquartered in Arkansas, and the largest grocery store chain based in the state.

Harps’ foray into the grocery delivery market comes only a few weeks after the world’s largest retailer introduced the service in Northwest Arkansas. Walmart Inc., which has had grocery curbside pickup at many of its stores since 2014, has initiated the same-day delivery service in several of its U.S. markets, with a goal of reaching 40% of the U.S. population for grocery delivery by the end of the year.

Walmart’s service incurs a flat fee of $9.95 for a minimum order of $30. The company uses various third-party final mile delivery services, and is testing is own service dubbed Spark in a few stores in Florida.

The Food Marketing Institute estimates online grocery sales will reach about $100 billion by 2025, or about 20% of the grocery retail market. Only about 3% of industry sales originate online today.

“The U.S. is nearly a $1 trillion grocery market, and last year we saw almost every major grocer in North America bring their delivery business online in a significant way,” Apoorva Mehta, the founder and CEO of Instacart, said earlier this year. “We believe we’re in the very early stages of a massive shift in the way people buy groceries, and we expect that one in five Americans will be shopping for their groceries online in the next five years.”

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