Small Retailers in Ohio Are Delivering the Goods
CINCINATTI — The blockbuster news of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal set off all kinds of speculation about the future of the food business. One area that got a lot of attention was how this will affect the future of online ordering and home delivery. After all, Amazon has been pushing the limits around same-day delivery for more than a year now.
In the supermarket industry, home delivery is becoming almost a must-have service. Delivery services like Peapod and Fresh Direct are becoming ubiquitous in many markets. Earlier this year, regional grocery chain Giant Eagle turned its Curbside Express pickup service into a home delivery vehicle. Even fast-food chains, like McDonald’s through a partnership with UberEats, is jumping on the home delivery bandwagon.
In the convenience store industry, getting food and drinks to customers in the quickest, and most efficient, way is paramount. Some of the industry’s larger retailers are dabbling in home delivery — Casey’s General Stores doing pizza delivery, and 7-Eleven working with delivery companies like Postmates and even testing Amazon-inspired drone delivery.
However, for smaller convenience store retailers, including independent c-stores, a new service called VroomDelivery.com is helping to meet their delivery needs around the greater Cincinnati and southern Dayton, Ohio, market area. Vroom Delivery LLC is a privately held business, owned by Roundtree Capital (RCC), a private investment and advisory firm that focuses on strategic and turnaround consulting for convenience stores, gasoline retailers and independent retailers.
“We have around 10 c-stores and we’ll hopefully be adding a few more in the areas to cover all of Cincinnati and Dayton for alcohol delivery,” John Nelson, president of Vroom, told Convenience Store News. “We have another five restaurants, two of which are attached to c-stores, and we have a couple of liquor stores as well. We are also in talks with a couple of small markets that offer fresh food and healthier meal choices, along with local craft beers and wine.”
Nelson said Vroom is the only platform on the market specifically designed for c-stores, and provides an effective way for smaller operators to compete with larger national grocery chains, while gaining access to cost-effective marketing and analytics.
Using VroomDelivery.com, consumers can order food, alcohol and tobacco to be delivered (where permitted by law). Vroom helps independent stores accept and manage their own online orders through the Vroom automated system. Deliveries are conducted by full-time or contract employees of the stores, which is required in many states when delivering alcohol.
Fred Asher, owner of the Norwood Drive Thru, a small c-store in Cincinnati, has been using Vroom for over a year. For delivery, Norwood Drive Thru offers its customers more than 700 different beer brands, as well as everything else available in the store — with the exception of cigarettes.
“Using Vroom delivery, I’m able to greatly expand my market area,” Asher told CSNews. “Before, my trading area was limited to my immediate neighborhood and passersby. Now, I can reach out and serve people beyond my traditional market area. As much as five to six miles away.”
Norwood Drive Thru has three employees in uniform who handle all same-day deliveries. All payment is done via credit card online so the drivers don’t have to accept cash.
Asher claims his beer prices are already the lowest in the market, but he charges a delivery fee based on distance: $3.99 for up to three miles; $7.99 for up to 6 miles.
Vroom is available through both a website and an iOS application. It also provides free web-based software to all the stores on the platform to receive, track and manage inbound orders, and affords them complete control of their online menus, delivery radius, fees, promotions and more.
“Futhermore, we give the stores access to historical sales analytics to help them understand trends in their customer demand,” said Nelson. “In the future, we plan to expand these analytical capabilities to help stores understand their demand with more granularity.”
Vroom also provides marketing support for all the retailers on its platform in the form of social media and search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, along with physical printed and email support.
The company is developing a marketing strategy to launch Vroom in cities and towns nationwide. Last month, the company was slated to launch in the Chicago market with Burnham Liquors, a liquor/convenience store in the downtown area.