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2014-01-28    来源:fortunechina    【      美国外教 在线口语培训


It all seems so simple: Hit the "place order" button online and get a head of lettuce, a dozen eggs, or a gallon of milk delivered to your doorstep within 24 hours. But behind the scenes, the burgeoning market of online grocery delivery involves a surprisingly delicate dance to ensure that perishable food gets from producer to consumer in just enough time to avoid (quite literally) a spoiled delivery.


With demand on the rise, giants such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN) are jumping into the fray as investors bet millions on a crop of startups with names like Good Eggs, Relay Foods, and Farmigo. Yet actually turning a profit and managing the logistics of food delivery is tricky, says Leslie Hand, a director at IDC Retail Insights, a market research firm. Unlike shipping books or durable products via UPS, fresh food delivery requires specific short routing, planning, technology, and a race against the clock.

投资者们为Good Eggs、Relay Foods、Farmigo这类初创公司投入了数以百万的资金,而随着食品速递的需求日益增长,沃尔玛(Wal-Mart)和亚马逊(Amazon)也加入了这场竞争。然而市场调研公司IDC Retail Insights的主任莱斯利•韩德表示,实际上,在食品速递行业实现盈利和物流管理非常困难。与联合包裹服务(UPS)运送图书或耐用品不同,生鲜食品快递需要选择最短的线路、进行周密的计划、采用先进的技术,还要与时间赛跑。

"We're sprinting hard behind the scenes," says Mike Brennan, chief operating officer of Peapod, an online grocer in Stokie, Ill. that offers next-day deliveries in 24 East Coast and Midwest markets. "It's a race every day. The faster you go, the fresher it is."


Challenge No. 1 is temperature. A mixed bag of groceries usually includes food that needs different temperatures to stay fresh. Bananas turn brown when they're cold, yet frozen food mustn't melt. Similarly, milk can risk spoiling if a trek to a customer's home takes too long.


Wal-Mart, which is testing online food delivery in San Jose and Denver, ships food directly from local superstores to customers using special Wal-Mart To Go trucks. They have three separate sections: one area for frozen food; one refrigerated area for fresh produce, meat, and dairy; and a third area for durable goods. If the retail giant pursues online deliveries nationwide, it has a unique advantage: Its 4,000 stores are located within five miles of two-thirds of the nation's population.

沃尔玛正在圣何塞和丹佛试着开展在线食品速递。他们使用特制的Wal-Mart To Go卡车,把当地大型超市的食品直接递送到顾客手中。卡车分为三块独立空间:其中一部分专门存放冷冻食品;另一部分是冷藏区,用于放置生鲜农产品、肉类和乳制品;剩下一部分装耐用品。如果这家零售业巨头在全国范围内开展在线速递,意味着它拥有独一无二的优势:沃尔玛在美国有4000家门店,美国有三分之二人口可以在五英里之内就能找到其中一家。

Peapod.com invested in high-tech warehouses with eight separate climate zones set to specific temperatures and humidity levels so that produce ripens more slowly and stays fresh longer. Strawberries, grapes, and melons go together; tomatoes hang in warmer temperatures; bananas sit with bread; and peppers and green beans get their own 45-degree room. Workers pack orders in bags, crush-proof containers, and in temperature-controlled totes.


Task No. 2 is logistics. Delivery routes must include enough customers to ensure a delivery is worth the cost of gas, driver time, and vehicle costs. Food must stay fresh even when a truck takes four hours to stop at 25 homes.


FreshDirect, based in Queens, has 2,500 employees working each day to ensure that fresh local food gets to customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Workers rely on real-time dashboards to monitor on-time deliveries; in-field scanning devices to track every event along the delivery; and customized mapping software models to handle traffic patterns, weather, and street closures to guide hundreds of trucks on the road. "We're maniacal about getting fresh food through to customers fast," says FreshDirect cofounder David McInerney.

On the other coast, a similar high-tech twist on food delivery is playing out at the San Francisco startup Good Eggs. Engineers there spent more than 18 months developing the back-end software to manage the deliveries of everything from local bread and eggs to yogurt and steaks from 400 local producers in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.

在另一边海岸上旧金山的初创公司Gold Eggs内,类似的高科技与食品快递之间也擦出了火花。那里的工程师花费了超过18个月的时间来设计后台软件,管理旧金山、布鲁克林、洛杉矶和新奥尔良的400家当地生产商制造的食品的递送。从面包、鸡蛋到酸奶、牛排,一应俱全。

Rather than buying food wholesale, stocking a warehouse, and hoping product will sell, Good Eggs uses just-in-time inventory, where local bakers only bake the amount of bread ordered that day or fisheries only pull the number of fish purchased. The company, backed by $13 million from investors, designed a separate website for local food producers like the Prather Ranch Meat Co.

Good Eggs并没有采用批发食品,把它们存在仓库,然后希望产品能够卖出去的方式,而是采用即时生产的清单模式。当地的面包师只烘烤当日订单中要求的面包量,渔场也只捕捉确定要购买的那些鱼。这家公司获得了投资者1,300万美元的赞助。他们为当地的食品制造商如Prather Ranch Meat Co.设计了专门的网站。

Each Tuesday, Prather Ranch chief executive Doug Stonebreaker receives new cuts of pork and beef from the company's northern California ranch. On his Good Eggs website, he updates and manages inventory, uploads product photos, sets prices, and views product trend data, like what's selling best.

每周二,Prather Ranch的董事长道格•斯通布雷克都会收到来自公司在加利福尼亚北部的牧场的新鲜猪肉和牛肉。在Good Eggs网站上,他可以更新和管理存货清单,上传产品图片,设定价格,观察产品趋势数据,比如什么商品卖得最好。

Each afternoon, internal software at Good Eggs analyzes the day's orders to determine next-day staffing, delivery routes, and product needed. It sends an automated e-mail to producers like Stonebreaker, telling him which cuts of meat customers ordered.

Good Eggs的内部软件会在每天下午分析当日订单,确定次日的员工配置、快递路线和产品需求。软件会给斯通布雷克这样的制造商发送自动生成的电子邮件,通知他们顾客需要多少肉制品。

The next morning, Stonebreaker and other food providers pack up their pre-sold goods and drive to Good Eggs' downtown San Francisco food hub. There, a dozen Good Eggs workers wait with tablet computers in hand to check in and sort food in various temperature-controlled storage areas.

次日上午,斯通布雷克和其他食物生产商会打包这些商品,把它们送到Good Eggs旧金山市中心的食品中转站。在那里,许多Good Eggs的员工会手持平板电脑核对货物,分门别类地把它们装进不同的温控储藏区。

Tablet applications help organize orders into waves of deliveries that go out in four-hour windows, as workers pack food in paper bags and cold sleeves for each customer. Those same employees then jump in their personal vehicles and use GPS routing software on their smartphones to make drop-offs. Before an order arrives, a customer receives a text message alert.


Within 36 hours of clicking the "buy" button online, customers like Judy Shaper, a retired mortgage broker in Sausalito, Calif., receive a bag of food. Although Shaper is frustrated by the delivery fee -- which at times has hit $8, because there are not yet enough customers in her neighborhood -- she is a big fan of the delivery service since she can't always get to the farmer's market.


"The spinach I've gotten is the best I've had in my life," she says, uttering the words that every food delivery service executive is dying to hear. "It's so fresh."


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