June 28, 2017

Instacart’s Charleston expansion highlights a new frontier for online grocery services: smaller cities

Instacart shopper in produce isle
Image Courtesy of Instacart

As e-commerce startups have raced to bring the grocery store to the smartphone and crack the last frontier of online shopping, they’re increasingly taking on a new challenge: cities like Charleston.

That’s why the Lowcountry, which had no grocery delivery services four months ago, will have two options by the end of the week, when the industry’s dominant player arrives here.

Instacart, a well-heeled San Francisco startup, says it’s launching here Thursday as part of a nationwide expansion targeting smaller markets, reaching outside its traditional core of big cities.

It will join the Birmingham, Ala.-based startup Shipt, which started picking up groceries in the Lowcountry in February . Shipt has focused its expansion on the Southeast, seeking to capture a niche that Silicon Valley hadn’t.

As the two companies go head to head, they’ll offer largely similar services, and the teams of contract workers they assemble […]

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