The emphasis is on fresh at online grocer FreshDirect. The Internet grocery shopping service delivers to many New York City neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale, Queens, and some parts of Staten Island. It has also expanded to serve parts of Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester County. The company sells more than 3,000 fresh food and grocery items, as well as kosher and organic products to more than 250,000 customers. With a business model similar to computer maker Dell, FreshDirect deals directly with producers and makes food to order, which undercuts its rivals. Since its founding in 1999, FreshDirect has filled more than 10 million orders.
With its eye on filling even more orders, Fresh Direct in 2012 won a $128 million financing package from the New York City Economic Development Corp. to build a new warehouse in the Bronx, after flirting with the idea of relocating to New Jersey. The Bronx facility will replace its warehouse in Queens, which the company has outgrown. Fresh Direct plans to add about 1,000 new jobs by 2020. Leading Fresh Direct in this next phase of growth is CEO and co-founder Jason Ackerman, who previously served as the company's CFO. He was named CEO in May 2011 and succeeded ex-chairman and CEO Richard Braddock, who left the business in March when UK supermarket operator Wm. Morrison invested $50 million in the company. Prior to helping found FreshDirect, Ackerman was an investment banker.
As with other successful Internet retailers, such as Amazon.com, Fresh Direct focuses its loyalty building efforts around the exchange of customer information for service. The e-grocer has built several customer shopping tools that use a customer's buying history to facilitate their shopping experience. These include reminding shoppers of their most frequent purchases, as well as prior searches and shopping lists. A new daily rating program for produce has improved produce sales by 40%. Previous efforts to please customers included the launch of One-Click Recipes, which allows customers to select a recipe and put the entire ingredient list on their shopping list. It has also partnered with Union Square Wines & Spirits to allow shoppers to select from more than 300 bottles of wines and spirits to be delivered along with their groceries. – less