A new Madison-based app now allows customers to grocery shop without ever stepping foot in an aisle.
GrocerKey launched Friday, thanks to Jeremy Neren, a former University of Wisconsin student who was the brains behind the Munchie Delivery service. Neren said he is expanding his target customers beyond the scope of those with a case of late-night munchies, as Munchie Delivery does.
“We are recreating the in-store grocery experience online,” Neren said.
The idea came to him six months ago and is built off his already existing business, he said.
With more than 15,000 products available at in-store prices, the app is designed to make the ordering process as simple as possible, Neren said. GrocerKey employees are stationed within the grocery store, and will bag and deliver all the purchased items at any time the customer chooses, Neren said.
GroceryKey offers delivery until 2 a.m., he said.
“We believe we have created an online shopping experience superior to what is out there,” Neren said. “Our pricing in many cases is better because we’re providing in-store pricing, and our delivery fee is either identical or cheaper than other providers.”
With the first few days online under his belt, Neren already foresees an expansion. Right now, GrocerKey is partnered with only one, undisclosed store in downtown Madison but they hope to expand to serve the entire Madison area soon, Neren said.
“Since we are currently partnered with a store downtown, we are geared more toward UW students,” Neren said. “But we want to reach a broader customer base, and we hope to cover all of Madison within 6 to 8 weeks.”
Potential expansion of the business could also improve the city problem of food deserts, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said.
Benefits could eventually reach parts of the community that are facing real issues with food accessibility, Verveer said.
“It sounds very exciting and has great potential to help communities that are suffering with food deserts here in Madison, but it might have a limited reach until the Internet is more accessible to low income individuals or those on fixed incomes,” Verveer said.
GrocerKey was founded with the help of gener8tor, a business startup accelerator co-founded by Troy Vosseller and Joe Kirgues.
GrocerKey’s long term plan includes partnering purely with local and independent stores in Madison, Vosseller said.
“I think GrocerKey’s advantage is in creating an easily accessible user interface,” Vosseller said. “I hope to see it continue to add new grocery stores to the platform, use grocery store brands, and even expand to other cities.”
Large grocery store chains frequently run small, local stores out of business by surpassing them in technology, Neren said.
By partnering with these smaller stores, GrocerKey is providing them with the technology to keep up with the larger chains, he said. Neren said this locally-minded business plan is beneficial for both independently owned grocery stores, and for Neren’s interest in creating jobs in Madison.
With his continuing success with Munchie Delivery and the new addition of GrocerKey, Vosseller said Neren is dedicated to making groceries as accessible as possible through his businesses.
“Jeremy Neren is a great example of a UW entrepreneur who started his first business when he was a student and has continued to innovate ever since,” Vosseller said.
Update: This post has been updated to remove information about which store GrocerKey is partnered with.