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Roche Bros. to Launch Online Grocery Delivery Service

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Roche Bros., a 17-store supermarket chain based here that runs stores under the Roche Bros. and Sudbury Farms banners, will be going head to head with Peapod by Stop & Shop by offering a rival online grocery delivery service starting Nov. 2, according to published reports. The retailer is the first to launch such a business in the Boston area since 2001, when the dot-com collapse left Peapod the only local Web-based grocery service standing.

Roche Bros. c.o.o. Ed Roche told the Boston Globe that the grocer's aim was to lure back customers it lost to Peapod and generate the sales equivalent of another store.

Roche Bros.' plan is to fill orders from eight selected 'picking' stores spead out over a wide geographical area and deliver within a 10-mile radius to 75 cities and towns, according to the Boston Business Journal. The company has added 25 full-time associates and 16 three-zone, temperature-controlled delivery trucks in anticipation of the service's rollout. Among the new employees are personal shoppers trained to select the "finest and freshest product in the store," in the words of the company's Web site,, where shoppers will be able to access the delivery service. The company will be using an e-grocery software package from Ireland-based Buy4Now, which has also worked on similar projects with the Food Emporium division of Montvale, N.J.-based A&P and Irish retailer Superquinn.

The retailer's online customers will pay the same prices as those paid by customers at the stores, and coupons will be collected on delivery and credited toward the next purchase. The delivery charge is $9.95 per order regardless of its size. Delivery times will be noon to 2 p.m., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and same-day deliveries will be possible with four hours' advance notice. Tipping won't be permitted.

Roche Bros. home delivery director Arthur Ackles told Progressive Grocer that some of the ways his company offered a differentiated service were in its refrigerated trucks (Peapod's trucks aren't refrigerated); the use of personal shoppers to select products straight from store shelves instead of getting items from a warehouse, as Peapod does; the availability of 18,000 products as opposed to Peapod's 9,000; and that online prices are the same as in the store, whereas Peapod's prices are independent of those at Stop & Shop.

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