Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Are You Listening, FreshDirect?

For those of you who don't live in New York, FreshDirect is the latest in a line of companies that allow you to order your groceries online and have them delivered within a day. The history of these companies is not encouraging: starting with stock market dud Webvan, most have gone out of business. However, FreshDirect has gotten a foothold in New York, perhaps because of its emphasis on quality, ease of ordering, and an advertising campaign featuring celebrities identified with New York such as Spike Lee and Cynthia Nixon.

People who use FreshDirect are usually fans, but invariably they all have the same complaint about the company. The groceries come in boxes that take a long time to break down for recycling. This is too much for effete urbanites such as ourselves. It would be much easier to get the goods in bags, which could be folded and discarded easily.

The reason FreshDirect doesn't use bags is clear. Bags don't stack and organize well in a truck. They slide around and don't protect the produce. Well, FreshDirect... I have the solution for you.

Have you seen those motorized conveyors they use at the dry cleaners, FreshDirect? Rather than go search for your shirt, the dry cleaner will press a switch and the shirt will slide around the conveyor until it comes to him. Sometimes they use a similar mechanism to check coats at museums or theatres. Simply install a system like this in all your trucks. Instead of letting bags slide around the truck, hang the bags on these belts.

The virtues of this system would be many:
  • The groceries would be perfectly insulated from any impacts: the bags would all swing in unison but hit nothing.
  • Retrieving the bags would be fast. The belts could loaded in the order in which they would be delivered.
  • You could pack the trucks more; maybe 3 or 4 levels of bags. You wouldn't have to lose space in the truck with an aisle for the delivery person to use.
  • Less truck refrigeration would be lost in the summer: the groceries would come out of a small door that was open for short time, rather than a big door that was open for a long time.
  • If there's a similar conveyor system in the plant, it might even be possible to load the trucks mechanically.
  • And of course, your lazy clientele will be happier.
You're welcome, FreshDirect. I await my royalties.

PS: It's an exciting 'Business and Technology' day! Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote at the MacWorld convention. Rumors are he will unveil the iPhone. Expectations are that owners of the new iPhone will be irresistable to the opposite sex AND enjoy spiritual peace. Look forward to iBlogging from me!

1 comment:

jopik said...


Just heard about competition to FD on http://www.brooklynrecord.com/archives/2007/02/some_competition_for_fresh_direct.html. Check it out, they promise not to use as many boxes, and will be environmentaly better for a change.