I recently discovered that Mighty Ape's offshoot grocery website, MightyMart.co.nz is no longer active. Visting the site now forwards you to the Food and Drink section on Mighty Ape.
I hadn't checked the site for a few months, so I don't know exactly when they took it down. But they launched in June 2013, so I'd say after a year (June 2014) they looked at the numbers and decided to hold off.
Also, interestingly another similar site SupermarketSaver.co.nz is not operational, which I was not aware of either. They were a popular site selling only supermarket items that was essentially the first supermarket deal site that launched in May 2012.
I'm not sure exactly why all these grocery deal sites have shut down, but the fact that they all have, means it's a question of the market. With Mighty Ape's size and customer base I would have thought they would make a good go of it. And they did. But the fact is that all of the major deals sites have tried grocery too, and ended them.
1day started offering grocery items on Mondays every fortnight back in 2012. They seemed to be pretty successful, and a lot of the items would sell out. But their Grocery Grab sales that would happen every second Monday just disappeared, they never stayed around.
GrabOne also came on board with the Grocery Run which was a weekly grocery sale. But like 1day, the sales just seemed to disappear. When MightyMart launched I wrote an article that was pretty sceptical about the grocery category because of this very reason. So with SupermarketSaver gone, this signals the final grocery deal site to shut down. A category ahead of its time :)
But interestingly, an online food segment is piping hot right now, and that is the novelty and American Sweets market. Sites like UnitedSweets.co.nz have lead the charge and now there are lots of other sites doing the same thing. Even the supermarkets have added American candy to their International sections.
I don't know the background of these last two sites, but a few things are evident when a site shuts down. You have to take a look at the market they have entered, and there are plenty of reasons for this category to not be ideal, at least for now.
Competing with supermarkets is a big challenge. These billion dollar companies don't like competition so they have the power to make life difficult for these websites, if they feel they are being threatened.
Now I'm not saying MightyMart or SupermarketSaver had trouble from supermarkets, but it's certainly a possibility with the way supermarkets are acting these days. If a supermarket doesn't like the fact that a food manufacturer is supplying to a website, they can put pressure on the supplier.
Supermarkets have been known to threaten to relegate a food companies products to the lower shelves (less sales). Or even worse, not to sell their products at all. Food manufacturers need supermarkets, so they are not in a good position to fight back.
But probably the main reason is that kiwis just aren't ready yet to buy their groceries online. Mark my words it will happen, but it might be another 5 years before it is common place.
But if we look forward 20 years, we wont even need to order online. Our fridges will be RFID chip enabled. When your milk runs out, the RFID scanner in the bottle will signal the distribution centre to get one out to you on same day courier.
This might sound a little crazy but seriously, this kind of thing is coming, and even more things we just can't even fathom right now. Go back to the 1950s. Tell someone, that in the future everybody will have a magical electronic box in their pocket. They will be able to speak to anybody on the planet, face to face on a video screen. They can also log on to the 'internet' and search all human knowledge. With this they can find out the answer to practically anything, instantly, and free of charge.
This person from the 1950s would not believe you. And likewise, we will just not believe the things that are possible in the coming generation. So...fridges that reorder your milk... It seems a lot more believable than a free database of all human knowledge doesn't it :)
I got a little off track here! But it all relates. Mainstream New Zealand is not ready for online grocery shopping just yet. But in 5 years, it could be a little more commonplace, and there will be a new host of websites that pop up offering easy ways to get your food online. Can't wait... I'm hungry just thinking about it :)