This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 17, 1999

The Exponential Growth of On-line Grocers

136 days until January 1, 2000

Fueled by a time-crunched culture and the need to do more in less time, concierge services have been available to do your grocery shopping, pick up the kids, drop off your dry cleaning, or buy gifts for loved ones. Internet grocers, like Shoplink, Streamline, HomeRuns, and Peapod, take the service to the next level. All you do is access their web sites, click on the items you want in your shopping cart, input your credit card number (the server is secure, of course), and go on to something else. In most cases within 24 hours, your groceries are delivered to your door. For some services, you don't even have to be there.

Some years ago, the advertising executive, Lester Wunderman, predicted we would all have locked boxes outside of our homes where bonded delivery people would place our purchases. The updated version of Lester's box is a keypad (installed outside of the garage by Streamline and Shoplink) which allows the delivery person to place boxes in the garage. And just in case you wanted to rent a video, redeem bottles or cans, or get your shoes repaired, some of these internet services will do that, too!

All this electronic commerce is creating some interesting new job/career opportunities: Fulfillment personnel who can pick and pack groceries for shipment, purchasing agents who have particular familiarity with special packing materials, customer service personnel who "know" groceries. The growth in this sector will only intensify the labor shortages plaguing employers throughout most of the country.

You would think that the country's most wired communities (Dallas and Atlanta lead the pack) would be the best targets for these services. However, these companies need TAFies (technologically advanced families), people who not only have the money to "buy their way out of the details," but who also feel very comfortable with technology. Thus, Boston (only 5th most wired) has been the hotbed of the development for these services. For most of us who would rather be reading a book than reading the grocery labels, this type of service will be a blessing.

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