Sunday, January 19, 2014


My sister-in-law was telling me of her first experience doing online grocery shopping. She did it through Peapod, which is Giant's way of doing this service. I notice our supermarket is also getting into this game.

I had been under the assumption, naively perhaps, that when one placed an order some employee from the store went through the aisles and selected what you ordered. Turns out that's not how Peapod does it. Instead, most (if not all) of your order is assembled at a warehouse or distribution center. If the warehouse is out of milk, it's on you to go into the store and purchase it if you wish.

I guess this makes some sense. The labor cost of clerks going up and down aisles of a conventional store would be expensive relative to the cost of having workers go back and forth through aisles at a distribution center. The layout of that distribution center, and the economies of completing dozens or hundreds of orders at once, would promote a lot more efficiency.

Sometime ago my eyes caught a new story about Amazon distribution center jobs as the new low-wage job in America. It has essentially replaced the entry-level industrial job of yore. I wish I had saved or linked that article, though I found this story from a labor advocacy website. There is a lot of interesting stuff to mull over as e-commerce of the mundane (heck, I get cat litter delivered from Amazon) becomes normal. I think of how Amazon is patenting predictive shipping, which seems a little creepy to me (but is it any more creepy than walking into a familiar diner and the server getting "your usual" for you?). I think of how valuable time is, and how it makes sense to have the selection of items done for me at a grocery warehouse rather than me wander up and down aisles. I think of how we have a somewhat interesting debate occurring in the nation regarding the minimum wage. Again, there's a lot to mull over.

No comments: