- Grocery delivery companies will deliver groceries, pre-prep or pre-made meals, and more to customers. The companies work with brick and mortar stores or their own line of grocery items. These orders are typically larger and more expensive than normal meal deliveries, and are often not meant to be eaten right away, rather they are to replace items someone has run out of, like flour or milk. They are almost always done online, and typically take at least one day to deliver, though some companies offer same-day delivery. Many delivery services are required to offer delivery within two hours because frozen and fresh foods must be delivered before they spoil.
- Grocery delivery differs greatly from meal delivery in the sense that it is usually sent as a parcel through common mailing services like USPS or FedEx, if it is only non-perishables. Since non-perishable items are normally packaged before arriving at grocery stores, they can easily be repackaged and delivered to customers without any special care. Sometimes, dry ice is added to keep perishable items fresh. Fresh and frozen foods complicate delivery which is done, usually by store/provider employees or third party services.
- The grocery delivery business emerged, with hundreds of niche delivery companies springing up offering a variety of different services from weekly grocery restock to pre-planned, pre-measured family meals to simplify cooking. Online retailer giants have hopped on board too. Amazon.com, for example, offers AmazonFresh delivery service. Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market in 2017, and by 2018 Amazon had added Whole Foods items to its Prime Now service, for 2-hour delivery in certain markets.
- According to Forbes, grocery stores should deliver their own groceries to help prevent third party, part-time, non-store deliverers from becoming the 'face' or brand image of their local grocer. Limitations of having to pick and deliver groceries within a short period of time need to be remedied to allow for more flexibility to enable more deliveries to be more efficiently routed. Frozen and fresh food refrigeration units inside the store and the delivery vehicle, as well as lockable, consumer refrigeration boxes at the consumers home will be a solution that allows the groceries to be delivered at any time, further relieving delivery issues. This scenario will allow more local grocers to deliver with employees vs outside delivery services.
- Same-day delivery for local parcels (such as documents) has long been available by local courier. Rail and air transport made same-day delivery feasible over longer distances; for example, packages shipped in the early morning can be delivered (at relatively high cost) anywhere in the mainland United States. Retail goods were seldom sold with shipping any faster than overnight.
- Some online grocers such as AmazonFresh and Webvan, and delivery services operated by grocery stores like Peapod and Safeway have had same-day or next-day delivery windows. Many restaurants have long delivered takeout locally on-demand, and online food ordering services have expanded this to many restaurants that would otherwise not deliver.