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InstaBuggy on the move with Sobeys

The online grocery delivery service will launch in Ottawa with Sobeys Urban Fresh and FreshCo

A popular Toronto online grocery shopping and delivery company is gearing up for an imminent expansion of its services to the nation's capital in partnership with Sobeys.

This could be just a pit stop on the road to cross-country service by year's end, says the founder and CEO of InstaBuggy, Julian Gleizer.

"We'll be launching in Ottawa with Sobeys Urban Fresh and FreshCo within 60 to 90 days," Gleizer told Canadian Grocer. If all goes well, he added, the relationship could extend nationally.

"This business is all about customer convenience, speed and value," said Gleizer, a digital and marketing expert and entrepreneur who founded - and later sold - group deals company DealTicker. "I think there is a segment of the population that wants to order online and wants fast service."

Sobeys spokesperson Vicki Leung downplayed the formality of the company's partnership with InstaBuggy. "Sobeys does not have any formal agreement with InstaBuggy," she wrote in an email.  "Our relationship goes insofar as letting InstaBuggy use the FreshCo logo on their website, which allows their customers to select our store as the destination where their groceries will be selected."

Launched in downtown Toronto a year ago next month, and in partnership with Sobeys FreshCo, and now Urban Fresh, InstaBuggy is a geographic-based, app-driven service that enables customers to shop for items online and place orders up to three days in advance. It delivers groceries, even from multiple stores.

The company relies on a network of company-affiliated drivers and store managed pickers and packers. The company promises to deliver orders within an hour though there are no penalties involved for the company when that doesn't happen.

Minimum orders are $35, a $10 increase since last April's launch. Customers pay a delivery fee of $9.99 for orders of $35.00 to $60.00, and $5.99 for orders between $60.01 and $80.00. The company provides free delivery to first-time orders and those above $80.00. According to Gleizer, the average order is usually above $200, and the rate of repeat purchases is high.

In addition to InstaBuggy's growing relationship with Sobeys Urban Fresh and FreshCo, the company has partnered with a number of food retailers within the Greater Toronto Area.

It partnered with Toronto grocer Summerhill Market, which has two stores and is known for its gourmet prepared foods. Gleizer said InstaBuggy will start working with Galati Fresh Markets as well as two other well-known Greater Toronto Area grocers - Coppa's Fresh Market and Michael-Angelo's.

Gleizer says InstaBuggy has shown triple-digit growth month over month since it became operational. "We've been told we're the only marketplace for groceries that connects customers and stores."

Grocery retail expert Sally Seston says, the key to success for InstaBuggy and similar 'click and collect' services is being fast, trustworthy and reliable while remaining cost effective. "Shoppers have told us that if grocers are adding value to your service, you're ticking boxes."

The risk for grocers, she added, is ensuring the continued quality of produce and service. Seston added "If your reputation is for excellent produce, you have to ensure the produce delivered is top notch every time.”

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