By Brian Soloman / www.forbes.com / February 9th, 2015
A bouquet of roses for a Valentine's Day order last year. (AP Photo/The Odessa American, Ryan Evon)
Boyfriends looking for an easy way to get last minute Valentine’s Day flowers may have a new startup savior: grocery delivery app Instacart.
Starting on Monday, Instacart is partnering with Whole Foods to deliver flower bouquets (along with chocolates, cheeses, lotions and other “romantic items”) in 15 U.S. cities through February 15. Prices start at $25, plus Instacart’s standard fees of $3.99 for two-hour deliver and $5.99 for one-hour delivery.
Whole Foods was already one of Instacart’s biggest supermarket partners, as the $2 billion startup builds out relationships with supermarkets across the country. Whole Foods executive vice president of operations David Lannon said in a statement that the service is “a good example of the innovative and affordable new experiences our partnership with Instacart can offer.”
Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta talked with Forbes last month about the company’s growth plans, and what new non-grocery categories they would add with $220 million in new funding. He said:
Groceries are the hardest category. Picking avocados, delivering ice cream is harder than anything else. The fact that we have come so far with that—it points to the fact that we can do other categories with our platform. Whether we’re going to be doing it in this round or this year or not is something we’re not disclosing right now. The fact is we can do it.
The question is which categories make sense. There are some categories I can tell that won’t make sense—like big screen TVs or consumer electronics in general. The reason they don’t make sense is they don’t have the frequency. How many times do you need to buy a router in a year, for example? And do you really need it in one hour? More toward unconsidered goods where there is frequency and there is value and where the selection offered in one place is better than the selection offered somewhere else in the city. That’s how we think of the categories.
Flower delivery isn’t a frequent expense for most consumers, but a Valentine’s Day stunt could be an easy way for Instacart to get new customers, especially when working with a partner they already had in Whole Foods.
“What better time than now to offer customers a way to spend more time with loved ones, and less time running errands. Inexpensive delivery rates and Whole Foods Market’s higher quality flowers also mean customers are getting far more value for their Valentine’s dollar,” Mehta said in a statement.
Of course, it’s unclear what kind of traction the service will get in a crowded space. Teleflora, Proflowers, and 1800Flowers, among others, have offered flower bouquet delivery for years. Other young entrepreneurs have already been eyeing it, with startup BloomNation among the latest entrants.
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