The Reason Trader Joe's Doesn't Deliver

Online grocery shopping is a fairly new market, but it really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Per Statista, the number of online grocery shoppers in the United States was around 72 million in 2018, and that number is projected to reach 163 million shoppers by 2024. Many big-name retailers employ the help of third-party services such as Instacart and DoorDash to shop for groceries on the behalf of customers and deliver the order to their door (via CNN).

While more retailers are beginning to offer online shopping and curbside services in addition to in-person shopping, one grocer is sticking to the old-fashioned way — Trader Joe's. According to Insider, Trader Joe's actually did offer its shoppers delivery in the New York area for nearly 10 years before ending the service in March 2019 due to the cost. Interestingly, the decision for Trader Joe's to stop offering delivery came at a time when other retailers were just jumping into the market. From 2019 to 2020, online sales in the United States from Walmart increased by 69%, while the delivery business for Kroger increased by 150% (per NBC News). Here are a few reasons why Trader Joe's doesn't offer delivery any longer.

Trader Joe's business model isn't fit for delivery

Most Trader Joe's stores are small compared to retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Publix (per CNN). Adding third-party shoppers would make the store even more crowded. Moreover, Trader Joe's has a limited product selection that comes and goes a lot more often than other retailers, which would make it difficult to constantly update the product selection if the company used third-party delivery services. Having seasonal, unique, and private-label products adds to the charm of its grocery experience, and that could be difficult to replicate for online shoppers.

Furthermore, many Trader Joe's locations are in urban or suburban areas on street corners with small parking lots and limited parking. This would make it nearly impossible to comfortably carry out a successful curbside pickup service. While some would argue that Trader Joe's could have a warehouse just for online grocery orders, it's an extremely large cost and time commitment that could result in employee wages being reduced and the cost of products being increased.

Offering further insight, vice president of marketing for Trader Joe's Matt Sloan said in the company's podcast, "Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery – it's a massive undertaking. It's something that takes months or years to plan, build and implement and it requires tremendous resources." It looks like you'll have to make the drive to keep enjoying cult-favorite Trader Joe's products.