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Are Grocery Stores a thing of the past? — Industry Disruption






Are you ready for a confession? This is something I never thought I would say out loud, but it has completely rocked my world.

For the past three months, I haven’t set foot in a grocery store. I know what you’re thinking—Nat, you’ve got to be kidding? No way, rosé. This is indeed a fact.

“The key is to embrace disruption and change early. Don’t react to it decades later. You can’t fight innovation.” —Ryan Kavanaugh


Lessons Learned: Disruption of the Grocery Business

Just a few years ago it would have been unfathomable to consider ordering organic produce from an app on your iPhone and having your week’s dinner menu delivered directly to your doorstep.

When we moved to San Francisco, Huey and I stepped into a technological time warp. With the touch of a button, we could have anything that we wanted delivered within hours.

The future is here… and it contains a valuable lesson for all of us who are trying to run a business. The type of lesson that entrepreneurs have been learning the hard way for hundreds of years.

Think like a consumer:


What are the biggest pain points found in traditional grocery shopping?

  • Travel time to and from the store; parking + traffic
  • Time spent wandering the aisles looking for precisely the items needed
  • Standing in line to check out
  • Lugging heavy bags back


Let’s meet my favorite grocery industry disruptors and I’ll share how I’m using them to save time every single week.



I’ve been using Hello Fresh for nearly a year now and it’s been a game changer! You can pick a meal plan depending on your schedule and household size. Once per week, your HelloFresh box is delivered to your doorstep completely free of charge. The recipes are delicious and have completely changed my weekly routine. Less time spent meal planning and more time spent enjoying dinner with my sweet husband.

Get $40 off of HelloFresh >>



When we first arrived to San Francisco, we discovered Instacart and our lives were forever changed. (Dramatic… perhaps! However, this app is the real deal!) Instacart is an on demand grocery delivery service that connects you with local shoppers who pick up and deliver your groceries from stores like Target and Whole Foods. We order our weekly produce via Instacart and continue to be impressed by their service.

Get $10 off of Instacart >> 



I would be lying if AmazonNow didn’t freak me out a little bit! It’s that good. When I spent my first night in our San Francisco apartment—I ordered sheets, a pillow, and a bath towel that was delivered in a little over an hour.

Sign up for Prime to take advantage >>


Saucey delivers alcohol to your doorstep in under an hour. Anytime we are leaving the office late and I’m too tired to swing by the store to grab wine to go with dinner, I’ll order on the app and it arrives right as dinner is finished cooking. Genius!

The bad news? Currently, Saucey is only available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Chicago! They are expanding to more cities in the future, but I would recommend creating your account if you travel to any of the cities above and want to do a wine-night in with friends.

Check out Saucey >>


Disruptors to the industry are recognizing the pain points of traditional shopping and finding ways to create convenience every step of the way. They are daring to think outside of the box and invent new ways of providing food and necessities to the end consumer.

As a photographer, I remember the days of DVDs and flash drives… it wasn’t until cloud based solutions like CloudSpot popped up that the industry truly began to experience a true technological disruption. Now clients could order prints directly from the internet and have professional quality products delivered directly to their doorstep. No need to drive to the studio to place an order. No uncomfortable pitching or in person sales tactics needed.

This is one of the primary reasons I moved from checks as a form of payment to online processing through HoneyBook. It saves me time (no longer watching for the mail to arrive, driving to the bank, waiting in line!) and it gives my client the opportunity to pay for their photography like they pay for everything else in their lives… easily online.

And while there will always be people who prefer to shop in grocery stores—some clients will prefer traditional operations methods. I believe, however, that the businesses who constantly evolve and strive to solve consumer pain points will secure their place in the future of the industry.

Think of the pain points that your customers or clients experience on a daily basis. How can you solve these issues through innovation? How can you put yourself at the forefront of a changing entrepreneurial landscape? I’d love to know your thoughts!


Nerd Alert: Some of the links above are affiliate links! All brands mentioned are ones I use personally + professionally.

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Add Your Comment


  1. Spring

    March 14th, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I live in a small rural town in Maine. I do order a million things from Amazon and take online payments and use lots of technology to make my life and business easier but I think the thing that scares me about all this innovation is that it removes people from interacting with people. The chit chat in the grocery line when my 2 year old makes a funny face at the lady behind me- my local bank teller asking how my husband is- Paul at the post office asking how business is this year. These are not people in my life for any reason other then that I see them when I’m out and about taking care of errands but I enjoy the simplicity of just saying hi and seeing a smiling face. I’m a people person so the idea of having everything delivered to the door makes my lazy self happy but makes my social self sad. As long as we find a way to not loose touch with people. I’m all for technology and making life easier but I worry about the cost of the loss of personal interaction and what that will do to all of our humanity. Sure we may spend more time with family and friends without having to stop for wine or grocery but are we going to miss out on those simple people skills. I already see it with people who stand in line looking at their phone instead of ever making eye contact with their cashier. I get it – I’ve done it – but i’m scared about what we might really realized we’ve lost if we miss out on all that real human interaction.

  2. Natalie

    March 15th, 2017 at 12:27 am

    Spring, I absolutely LOVE this sentiment and as a person that built an entire community around meeting in person—I know what you mean. If you haven’t heard Sherry Turkle’s TED talk, you would love it. My hopeful view lies in the reality that with advancements in technology, we have more time to invest in people if we choose to take it. Less time at the grocery store means more time with friends, family, and my husband. It means more time living life.

  3. Caroline

    March 14th, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Great tips, I haven’t tried a few of these! Always looking for life hacks! xo

  4. Jennifer

    March 14th, 2017 at 9:47 am

    This is so aptly timed! I ordered my groceries online for the FIRST time yesterday afternoon;) This was after months of feeling that I was somehow above myself. Surely, I COULD go the store, right? However, that feeling quickly left my brain within minutes of my order arriving. I had dinner on the table for my fam for the first time in awhile. This is definitely going to be a thing. Chipotle will wonder what happened to us.

  5. Brittany Thomas

    March 14th, 2017 at 10:02 am

    I love the idea of the grocery apps + services, but like most any other business or service, it comes down to PRICE. A service like HelloFresh would cost our family of 4 four times what we spend on a grocery trip that covers 3 meals a day for a week, not just dinner. I think for most people, getting two hours back a week by avoiding the grocery trip isn’t worth that much money.

    Even with my photography business, I can have the most ideal client who “gets” me, appreciates my work, and values photography. But if the numbers aren’t in their budget, it’s like none of that matters, the price is almost always the dealbreaker.

    P.S. I’m also jealous – wine delivery!? 🙂

  6. Laura Cannon

    March 14th, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I just found another great local to Baltimore option that does deliver outside of the area called Terra’s Kitchen. I love it because food is delivered in a totally reusable vessel that they come and pick up and refill so I can feel good about not creating so much extra packaging and waste that often comes with grocery delivery. They also have great vegetarian options. I only wish we had Saucey here!

  7. Kara

    March 14th, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I use both Instacart and HelloFresh, and they are totally worth it for me, especially with two small kids! I also use Fresh Harvest, a CSA that delivers a box of fresh produce weekly to my door. Great point about thinking about your customer’s pain points and how to innovate! I only wish Saucey was available in my city of Atlanta! 🙂

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