With the June 2013 expansion of Amazon.com, Inc.’s AmazonFresh program to the Los Angeles market, the resurgent business model of home grocery delivery now seems to be a force with which the food retail world must contend. After fits and starts of success for the idea earlier in the Internet era, many more consumers appear to be interested in having at least some groceries, including organic produce, delivered to their doorstep by Web-based services.

Internet retail giant Amazon.com launched AmazonFresh in 2007 in its hometown market of Seattle. Now, it appears to have its sights set on other urban areas, where high population densities afford the opportunity to grow the grocery delivery business. Walmart, meanwhile, has a robust grocery delivery service in the United Kingdom, and has been testing the waters in California for the last couple years.

But it’s not just billion-dollar companies that have proven willing and able to roll out such programs. Independent startups, many of them proudly offering certified organic produce, are also easy to find, especially in large urban areas. A quick search yields, for instance, Brooklyn-based Urban Organic, which delivers certified organic produce to New Yorkers via its Web site. Another example from just the New York area is Go Organic NYC, which also allows customers to customize their boxes of organic produce and set up a home delivery schedule.

There are many more small-scale operations to be found across the country, each of which represents grocery purchases not being conducted in brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, independent storeowners have not been shut out of this market. Some do offer their local customers home delivery of certain food staples, but more often, grocers allow customers to shop online beforehand and pick up their orders at the store.

The trend may favor businesses that deliver. A Food Marketing Institute survey found that 32% of shoppers used a local grocery store that offered online ordering, but no delivery. Twenty-eight percent of those shoppers said they had tried online ordering. Seventeen percent of those polled said their primary grocery store offered home delivery. Of that group, 35% said they’d tried it. Perhaps even more importantly, many more said they used home delivery on a regular basis (18%) than those who said they picked up orders at the store regularly (6%).

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2013