Publix Launches Faster Instacart Delivery in Miami Neighborhoods

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Publix Supermarkets on Thursday rolled out a new delivery offering that promises to get groceries to customers in as quickly as 15 minutes. The program debuts in several Miami submarkets, including Brickell, Wynwood and Coral Gables.

In its latest play to keep its market-leading position, Publix is partnering with delivery service Instacart, which is launching “nano-fulfillment” facilities it has dubbed Carrot Warehouses.

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Publix has been opening stores aggressively throughout South Florida, following a real estate strategy that retail analysts say is partly aimed at fending off Amazon: If consumers don’t have to drive more than a mile or two to a store, they might feel less compelled to order groceries online.

Publix has tested delivery off and on over the years, and its Instacart partnership marks the grocer’s latest attempt.

Instacart said it would open Carrot Warehouses nationally in partnership with Publix and other grocers in March. San Francisco-based Instacart boasts an army of 600,000 shoppers, independent contractors who deliver groceries, and also has partnered with ALDI and Schnucks.

“The grocery industry is undergoing a digital transformation where customers expect a seamless experience across many channels, but behind the scenes it’s taking an incredible amount of work and investment for retailers to deliver these new services,” Fidji Simo, CEO of Instacart, said at the time.

The new strategy could lessen one gripe from consumers who still shop the traditional way: They often find store aisles clogged with Instacart shoppers.

Neither Publix nor Instacart addressed that issue or offered details about where its Carrot Warehouses are located or how big they are.

As for fees, an order assembled for delivery by Commercial Observer suggested a $3 service fee that could be waived, plus a fuel charge of 40 cents. Getting the delivery in an hour required a $2 fee, but Publix waived the delivery fee for shoppers willing to wait two hours or longer.

Instacart breaks down its fees this way: For shoppers who aren’t members of Instacart Express, 15-minute delivery of orders of more than $35 includes a $3.99 delivery fee, an unspecified service fee and a $2 priority delivery fee.

For $99 a year, consumers can sign up for Instacart Express and avoid the $3.99 delivery fee. Instacart wil add a $4 fee to orders of less than $35. 

Publix is headquartered in Lakeland, Fla. It operates nearly 1,300 stores in the Southeast, most of them in Florida.

Jeff Ostrowski can be reached at jostrowski@commercialobserver.com.