The Internet’s effect on the brick-and-mortar economy gets more pronounced each year. With new restaurant delivery services flocking to the Twin Cities and Amazon continuing to grow, the way that consumers shop for their food is also changing. With a redesigned website, CobornsDelivers
is betting that now is the time to make its presence felt.
A subsidiary of Coborn’s Inc., the St. Cloud-based grocery store founded in 1921, CobornsDelivers began with the 2008 acquisition of SimonDelivers. With a name change and a connection to a Minnesota brick and mortar, the yellow CobornsDelivers trucks have been a regular site in the Twin Cities for the past 8 years.
“People come to us because they’re seeking convenience,” says e-commerce marketing manager Katie Boegel. “They stay with us because of our service.”
“We wanted to reintroduce ourselves to the Twin Cities market in a time when shopping online is more relevant than it was in 2008 when we first came here,” she further explains. The e-commerce company approached its web redesign the same way the company would remodel a physical store.
The emphasis was on mobile web use, and to make the process of buying groceries at home easier for both regular customers and first-time users by underscoring a navigation overhaul and better search and filtering options to speed up shopping. At the end, the checkout cart was a point of emphasis. Rolled out from May to September, the dividends already show. “Around 40 percent of our customers use their ‘Previously Purchased List,’” notes Boegel. The site is also seeing more mobile use.
Grocery delivery is popular for those with life changes: new disabilities, the elderly and new parents. But Coborn’s is hoping to extend its services all busy parents. Grocery delivery saves valuable time that can be reallocated to children or meeting other needs. It’s a new market and now is the time to forge those connections.
“The best practices that might work for the Amazons of the world aren’t always applicable to us,” Boegel stresses. There is a sensory and personal attachment to food. CobornsDelivers works hard to maintain that trust between computer, customer and neighborhood service reps (e.g. drivers).
“People have a tough time wrapping their mind around it: how fresh are your groceries really going to be; where are they coming from; and how are they getting to me? I think that’s easier for material goods like shoes or jeans,” she says of online shopping.
As a Minnesota based employee-owned company, she feels Coborns has a leg up on the competition. Drivers form bonds with customers through regular deliveries and "our warehouse model (which we call superstore) has real professional shoppers shopping for you very similarly to a grocery store," she adds. The company trains professional shoppers to pick out customer orders and select the freshest produce.
“They inspect your produce and we handpick every piece that goes in our orders,” she says. Though the process feels robotic to an online shopper, CobornsDelivers has over 200 employees, most of whom are on the delivery team or the shopping team. The company uses special internal software inside a superstore environment where employees fill multiple orders at once, before they are put into the big yellow delivery trucks.