PepsiCo takes online grocery shopping into its own hands

Illustration for article titled PepsiCo takes online grocery shopping into its own hands
Photo: David Allio/Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)

How have your local businesses been dealing with in-store shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic? Most of mine have been taking orders over the phone, payment too, then I pick up my goodies at the door. As none of them have their stocked products listed online, I have to ask, “Do you have any of the good canned tuna left?” or, “I’m looking for any dry vermouth,” forcing the workers to scramble across the store to fetch my fishy, boozy cravings. Most businesses lack the bandwidth and extra cash to build out websites, let alone sites that stay updated on their stock on a daily basis. So if they want to sell online, they’re stuck doing so through sites like Amazon, who take a cut of their profit. But PepsiCo is not most businesses. The snack and soda giant indeed has the money to build out two entire websites dedicated to purchasing and delivering its products, and only its products: snacks.com and pantryshop.com.

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Illustration for article titled PepsiCo takes online grocery shopping into its own hands
Image: PepsiCo

Snacks.com is literally just a website where you order Frito-Lay chips, and a place where you realize that Frito-Lay owns basically all the chips. Cheetos, Doritos, Funyuns, Sun Chips, and Ruffles are all on the menu. I can’t believe such a gorgeous domain name has gone so underutilized until now, but internet sleuthing shows it’s long been owned by Frito-Lay—a decade ago, it was a corporate blog called Snack Chat. Its current use is a vast improvement.

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Pantryshop.com is a little different. It sells and delivers what it’s calling Pantry Kits, or combinations of different PepsiCo products, each one loosely adhering to some sort of theme. For example, the “workout and recovery” kit consists of Propel, Muscle Milk, and Gatorade protein bars. The family-size “rise and shine” kit has Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Life cereal, various Tropicana juices, and Aunt Jemima pancakes. This seems particularly useful for families with little ones, or single adults who really, really love Quaker products.

This investment indicates PepsiCo might suspect the future of grocery shopping is online. According to the CNN report, online food sales were up 66% at the beginning of May, compared to that same time in 2019. If that’s the case, I bet we’ll be seeing more corporations attempt to escape Amazon’s clutches by launching their own sites, too.

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DISCUSSION

boggardlurch
Lurch of the SoCal

The current status of delivery groceries is most decidedly “Not Ready for Prime Time”.

My recent experience is pretty consistent with others, so I’ll use that as an example.

$100 grocery order through Ralph’s, a Kroger brand store - mostly staples, few odd items, some fruits and veggies.

ATTEMPTING ORDER: First, simply ordering and picking up your groceries for curbside pickup requires a TWO WEEK wait. No exceptions. This was not “we are booked for two weeks worth of pickups, please understand”, just “all pickup order windows begin two weeks after the date of order” by default. Delivery was available with 48 hours lag between order and delivery, so delivery it was.

TRACKING ORDER: No activity between order and date of delivery, as expected and should be. Day of order I checked on the site towards the end of the delivery window and discovered several orders logged on our account, none of which were anything that I had requested. Calling the store I was told “We don’t have any connection to that, my apologies. I can give you corporate’s number”.

RECEIVING ORDER: Delivery person was nice, we spoke at a distance. Order itself was not optimal. Several items were missing, the produce was uniformly ‘close but not quite’ - cantaloupe instead of honeydew, that sort of thing. It was also all over the map as to ripeness and usability, with the cantaloupe overripe and sporting a few soft spots on the surface, bananas bright green without a touch of yellow, and apples that were the smallest possible out of the average size available.

VERIFYING ORDER: Not possible. The amount charged to my account was about ten dollars under the amount estimated on the original order, but since the initial order was erased and replaced with the incorrect orders (apparently there was a mixup where they scanned one delivery person’s entire order on our account) and never fixed, I have no clue as to whether we were charged correctly for what we received nor any real way to verify it.

This is not an acceptable way to get food.