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Boxed Brings Expiration Dates Online

Boxed, the bulk-shopping ecommerce retailer geared toward “updating the Costco experience for Millennials,” has added expiration-date labeling to shelf-stable products featured on the site, claiming to be the first ecommerce site to do so.

The dates appear on the right-hand side of a product’s page, and are estimated based on when an order is placed and likely to be delivered. They aren’t exact expiration dates, per se: Individual product vendors can decide whether to call the dates an “expiration,” “best by” or other type of date communicating when a product should be consumed, Jared Yaman, COO of Boxed, told Progressive Grocer.

Adding nutrition labels online meshes with consumer sentiment and activity: A 2015 study from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future says that nine in 10 Americans pay attention to date labels when deciding on a product to eat, while a recent survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation reports that seven in 10 consumers consider “expiration date” to be the most important factor on a food package when choosing a product to buy or consume.

"When people shop for food in the store, they want to eyeball the bananas, check the nutrition facts and look at the sell-by date," Yaman said. "That isn't possible online. So, when customers asked us to add expiration dates, we thought, why not? We want to be transparent and give people the information they want to buy with confidence, even if that means we'll sell fewer potato chips."

Boxed, a grocery delivery service that deals largely with shelf-stable products, last made industry-first news in early August, when it detailed what it called the first “true autonomous shopping” experience, one-upping ecommerce giant Amazon itself. The New York-based ecommerce company added to its ordering platform two concepts – Smart StockUp and Concierge – which together predict what shoppers need and when they’ll need it, in addition to fulfilling and sending an order without action on behalf of the shopper.

The following day, Boxed announced its entry into fresh-focused delivery with a service called Boxed Express, debuting in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta and Boston. The new initiative allows customers to receive groceries in as little as three hours after placing an order, with more than 500 fresh and frozen foods available for purchase. Users also have the ability to track delivery via Boxed’s app, whose tracking operates similar to that of Uber’s rideshare app.

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