NEW YORK – The City of New York is building an e-commerce platform to allow small grocers to reach customers online.
The new eCommerce marketplace will connect underserved NYC communities to local grocery stores. Through this partnership, select stores in all five of the city’s boroughs will begin offering their inventory online and via local delivery – something there were unable to do before.
The City’s arrangement with platform provider Mercato will allow customers to order from several stores at once within each neighborhood, replicating the experience of shopping in person from store to store.
Mercato, which was founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 2015 facilitates online ordering and delivery for more than 225 independent grocery and specialty food stores across New York City’s five boroughs. This partnership is designed to empower stores in more marginalized neighborhoods.
The pilot program, which is now underway, includes independent grocery stores located in neighborhoods identified by the Mayor’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. A number of participating stores are members of both the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) FRESH program and its Public Markets network.
The City of New York is waiving the set-up fee for these stores, typically valued at $1,500, to get them up and running faster and more cost-effectively. Once on Mercato’s platform, these newly added independent grocers will benefit from the company’s ongoing marketing campaigns which include digital advertising, email and more.
“Putting equity at the center of the city’s recovery means ensuring New Yorkers have access to quality food that is healthy and affordable,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation.
“The partnership with Mercato gives seniors and other groups at a higher-risk for COVID-19 a safer means to access food. At the same time, independent grocery stores and participating vendors at our public markets, which are serving hard-hit communities, can grow their business by building their digital presence.”
“Communities across New York City – and communities of coloor in particular – deserve access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food, and need it now more than ever,” said Anusha Venkataraman, co-chair of the Taskforce subcommittee on Food Access & Insecurity and NYC chief service officer.
“I am proud of the Taskforce’s work to expand and improve these important initiatives, and support local businesses in the process. Moreover, these options will help expand choice, including to culturally appropriate foods, so that New Yorkers can choose which foods they want to eat and feed their families.”