Seattle is home to an online pioneer who is nudging the c-store industry past the brick-and-mortar retail wall. No, we’re not talking about Amazon, although Howard Bode of ARS has that online disruptor in mind with his new online c-store marketplace and delivery service, Roo.
“While Amazon has an amazing business model and a robust infrastructure and lots of logistics, we’re the ones that own the last mile,” Bode told CSP. “We can beat them on time and beat them on cost delivering to consumers.”
Bode hopes to demonstrate this competitive advantage of the c-store channel with Roo (rootoyou.com/#/), which launched in late 2018 in downtown Seattle, where some of ARS’ Porter’s c-stores are located. The stores act as fulfillment centers for Roo. Customers can place orders for any of their products—including snacks, deli items, grocery, health and beauty and packaged beverages—through the Roo website or mobile app, and they will be delivered in less than an hour for $1.95. The Roo platform is integrated with ARS’ back office so the retailer can update the website or app as product inventory changes.
ARS plans to monetize Roo by improving Porter’s stores’ throughput, enabling it to negotiate better pricing and terms from its vendors. For now, Roo employees will make the deliveries. Once the offer gains traction, ARS will hire contractors. In the future, there may be no human drivers at all—think autonomous vehicles.
“That was part of the whole white-boarding process: trying to envision the future and the interim steps we need to take to ultimately get to where we want to be,” Bode said.
“We can beat [Amazon] on time and beat them on cost delivering to consumers.”