I have been mulling an idea around in my head for awhile and I thought that I should finally get some real input and/or suggestions from some business minded people... and this seems like a good place.
A bit of background: I have worked in a local grocery store for about 3 years total, most of that time during the later years of my college education. Long story short, the store was recently sold by the owner and I am now compelled to move on. I was a mere stocking/carryout so I have a good overview of the grocery business, but none of the specifics.
Now, my idea was to open a Online Grocery Store to serve the greater NorthDakota area. A online store where people could order foods (including dairy, meats, produce) and have them delivered to their houses.
My first thought was to have it located near the center of the state so we could cover the most area. A delivery schedule came to mind, taking the form of: Minot and surrounding area deliveries on Monday, Bismarck and surrounding area deliveries on Tuesday, Dickinson Area Wednesday, Jamestown area Thursdays, and some other area Fridays. This way, orders could be stockpiled and delivered in an efficient manner. By charging a $5 flat fee for shipping, we could essentially off-set any fuel costs with 15 or so orders on any given day.
As for structure, I worked at a SuperValu store in a small town and considered that being supplied by them would be a good route to go. Anyone have any insight on this? I have the potential to learn more about SuperValu markup by getting ahold of my former boss, but I'd rather not do that until I am a bit more researched in this idea.
I figure the major needed structure to a business like this would be: A professional website (hopefully with some sort of bar-code scanning support and inventory tracking --- A storage warehouse (including shelving/Freezer/Cooler) with attached office space --- Delivery truck, perhaps the size of a U-Haul along with stackable boxes to transport deliveries in.
I figure 3 employees are more than adequate, 2 to go on deliveries in the morning and one to come in and prepare deliveries for the following day and answer phones. To avoid monotony, these 3 could freely switch duties as needed. Also, perhaps a part-timer to fill in on sick/vacation days.
Sorry I'm just kind of writing these ideas as I remember them. The basic idea is that without the sales floor overhead and everything that goes with that (including the dozen or so employees needed to efficiently run and maintain an open store)... there would be a sufficient room to cut prices enough persuade people to order their groceries online and have them delivered. As ND is a largely rural state with many small towns, I figure that there may be enough untapped potential for something like this to work.
Well this is just a rough overview, but I would definitely like some feedback and suggestions.