Point, Pick, Click: The evolution of shopping

KMBZ News Staff
August 02, 2018 - 7:10 am

In the modern age, almost everything is available online, with home delivery.

We examine the digital shopping age in our KMBZ Cover Story: Point, Pick, Click.

-- Dinner at Your Doorstep -- 

One driver in the home delivery market is prepared food. Chinese restaurants and pizza parlors have delivered for decades, but online apps like GrubHub and DoorDash have broadened the menu options.

Indianapolis startup ClusterTruck started doing business in Kansas City last December. Customers order their food using an app on their smartphone or computer. ClusterTruck has its own kitchen, where it prepares a variety of food, made to deliver. 

"(The kitchen people) hand us the food, we take it to the curb, the customer meets us at the curb and he hand them their food," said Ken Reed, who delivers for ClusterTruck.

Ken, who turns 60 soon, likes working for ClusterTruck. He says the schedule agrees with him.

"There's no age limit, if you know how to drive and can follow directions, you can do this job," Ken said.

-- Home Grocery Delivery --

Online grocery shopping is a growing segment of the market, but it hasn't really taken off. 

"Every day somebody's talking about online program that so and so is participating in," said Jeff Pederson, with Associated Wholesale Grocers.

There is plenty of room for growth.

"In the grocery channel online spending has reached about five percent of the total grocery spending in the United States," Pederson said.

A big hurdle for home grocery delivery is the fact that most people like to pick out their own food, especially when it comes to meat and fresh produce.

-- Online Isolation --

As Americans skip brick and mortar stores to order more and more items online, many ask whether we are becoming more isolated.

Kansas City-area psychologist Dr. Linda Moore calls it a creeping problem, associated with technology addiction.

"We started out looking at addiction to cell phones and to any kind of tech device that cuts down on human interraction, and now we're not even going to be having a conversation with the person at the checkout counter," Moore said.

A lack of human connection can lead to anxiety and depression.

"We need to look at each other," Moore said. "We need to have face-to-face contact; we need to connect."

People who are depressed look for ways to avoid other people, so online shopping can lead to negative behavior.

 "I tell depressed clients, just go load the dishwasher, go run and errand, go talk to somebody, where ever it is you do your shopping," Moore said. "Make yourself interract."

Moore worries that online shopping is just the latest progression, the inch-by-inch isolation of our society.

-- Securing Your Deliveries -- 

People who hesitate to order online deliveries often cite porch pirates, thieves who look for opportunities to steal packages, as a major reason to keep driving to retail outlets.

According to a survey by Comcast Xfinity about 30 percent of Americans have had packages stolen from outside their homes. Police officers have caught package pilferers following UPS and FedEx trucks, looking for larcenous opportunities.

There are a handful of ways to protect online purchases that are delivered at home, said Rick Broida, who writes the Cheapskate blog for cnet.com.

One idea to discourage theft is installing a security camera that records all activity at the front door. A small, hidden camera is not much of a deterrant, Broida said.

"If you're going to invest in a camera, make it one that can be seen, and is really visible to the thief, so he thinks twice before even coming up onto your porch," Broida said.

Amazon, which dispatches more packages than any other retailer, is working on a variety of ways to reduce thefts. 

Amazon Key is a program that allows the delivery person to unlock the customer's front door and place the package inside. The door is then locked again.

Amazon Locker allows packages to be delivered to a secure location inside a retail store, like a Whole Foods. The customer can then pick up the package at his or her own convenience.

BoxLock is a smart padlock that attaches to a secure bin on the porch. The opens the bin, places your package safely inside, closes the bin and locks the lock.

Amazon and other services offer emails or text messages to notify the customer when a delivery has been made. That way the package can be picked up before it has sat unprotected for a long time.   


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