ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the summer of 1923, Eblen’s Cash Store placed several advertisements in the Albuquerque Journal for what it called the “most efficient grocery delivery system ever offered.” For a small fee, or none at all if the order totaled more than $5, Eblen’s said it would quickly deliver everything from cookies to “firm radishes” to any address in Albuquerque via taxi.
It is unclear whether the experiment was a success. In any case, it did not prevent Eblen’s from disappearing in the wave of modernity that swallowed up most of the city’s small grocers and their delivery services.
Building “the most efficient grocery delivery system ever offered” might have been hyperbole for Eblen’s nearly a century ago, but the possibility is real for Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon today. Amazon – which has brought sweeping changes to the book, cloud computing and retail industries, to name a few – announced in June it would acquire Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The news sent grocery stocks tumbling in what data and analytics firm Trepp LLC termed “the Amazacolypse.”
Though Amazon remains tight-lipped about its strategy, analysts say the grocery industry is scrambling to anticipate the e-retailer’s next move. That means Albuquerque consumers could see changes in their shopping experience more quickly than they might have expected.