• Trader Joe’s marketing executives said the company wouldn’t provide curbside grocery pickup or delivery, even though demand for those services is soaring.
  • “Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery — it’s a massive undertaking,” Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing, said.
  • He said the company would rather focus its investments on employees, rather than online grocery services.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t plan to offer grocery pickup and delivery, despite soaring demand for online grocery services amid the pandemic, the chain said.

“Customers are asking if given current circumstances, we’re planning on offering delivery or curbside pickup,” Tara Miller, Trader Joe’s marketing director, said in a recent episode of the company’s podcast, “Inside Trader Joe’s.” “We understand the impulse, and we know that some other retailers are offering these services. We also know those offerings don’t always translate into positive results.”

Miller and Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing, said the costs of building online grocery services were too high and that the infrastructure for such an undertaking “eliminates the need for people.”

“Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery — it’s a massive undertaking,” Sloan said. “It’s something that takes months or years to plan, build, and implement, and it requires tremendous resources.”

Sloan added: “Well, at Trader Joe’s, the reality is that over the last couple of decades, we’ve invested those resources in our people rather than build an infrastructure that eliminates the need for people.”

—lynn (@nymeca) April 14, 2020

Miller then added: “While other retailers were cutting staff and adding things like self-checkout, curbside pickup, and outsourcing delivery options, we were hiring more crew and we continue to do that. We know that this period of distancing will end, and when it does, our crew will be in our stores to help you find our next great product just as they’ve always been.”

Trader Joe’s offered grocery delivery in New York City for years but ended the program because it was too costly, the company told Business Insider last year.

“Instead of passing along unsustainable cost increases to our customers, removing delivery will allow us to continue offering outstanding values — quality products for great everyday prices — and to make better use of valuable space in our stores,” a Trader Joe’s representative said at the time.

Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, Amazon-owned Whole Foods, and other grocers have invested heavily in online grocery services and hired hundreds of thousands of workers since the start of the pandemic.

While some companies, including Walmart and Kroger, are investing in automated grocery-fulfillment options, those services are not widely available yet, and a vast majority of online orders industrywide are gathered and packed by grocery-store employees or outsourced to third-party companies like Instacart. 

Here’s what Trader Joe’s shoppers are saying on Twitter: 

—Kristenhearsawho (@KristenMalkemus) April 21, 2020

—Richelle (@MrsRichelleRice) April 21, 2020

—Kristennnnn (@singingsox) April 19, 2020

—Alexandria Boddie (@oddboddie) April 18, 2020

—chickswknives (@ChickswKnives) April 16, 2020

—Peggy B (@blazerrose) April 16, 2020

—Tamara Kenyon (@TamaraKenyon) April 15, 2020

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