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A smart new service

Wegmans has long been a customer favorite in the Rochester area for the great service people receive inside their stores. Now Wegmans is offering a service that will prevent people from even needing to enter the store.

The Gates-based grocer announced this week that it is partnering with California-based Instacart to offer home delivery service in Rochester starting Aug. 8. The service, which is already offered in Northern Virginia and Maryland, will be available Aug. 1 in Buffalo and Aug. 15 in Syracuse.

The move is a smart one for Wegmans, which has always been an innovator in addressing customer needs—sometimes even before those customers knew they had that need.

It is true that the service will be cost-prohibitive for some customers. The delivery fee for orders of $35 of more will be $5.99 (after a free delivery of your first order), and groceries purchased through the delivery service will be more expensive than groceries purchased in stores.

But there will be many customers who will happily pay extra for the convenience of not needing to go to the store.

Home delivery gives Wegmans another weapon as it fights not just the other grocery stores in each of its markets but also online sites that are increasingly offering food and other groceries.

Amazon, which is in the process of buying Whole Foods and already offers grocery delivery through its Prime Pantry, is now a competitor Wegmans needs to be aware of, just like Tops, Aldi and other brick-and-mortar stores.

Whether this service makes additional money for Wegmans is probably less important than its ability to keep customers happy by letting them continue to get groceries from Wegmans with as much flexibility as possible.

Grocery shopping has always been a matter of cost vs. convenience, and Wegmans has been better than most at giving its customers a variety of places to land on that scale. Home delivery is yet another smart move in letting customers decide how much they’re willing to spend for extra convenience.

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