How to Start a Grocery Delivery Business – Top 10 Beginner-Friendly Steps

keyKey Takeaways:

  • Pick the appropriate business model, such as a marketplace, a fulfillment center, or a hybrid model, to fit the resources and goals of the company,
  • Form alliances with nearby suppliers and grocery stores, and make sure the inventory management and order fulfillment systems are precise and effective.
  • Engage in marketing and promotion initiatives, such as referral programs, email marketing, and social media, to advertise the grocery delivery service and draw in new clients.
  • To increase sales and profitability, keep an eye on the company’s performance and optimize the pricing, distribution areas, product selection, and operational effectiveness.

In the vast sea of business options, the grocery delivery business has stood the test of time and established itself as a reliable low-cost option for any aspiring businessman. While delivering groceries seems like a niche market without potential, the evidence begs to differ.

Between 2022 and 2027, the grocery delivery market is said to expand by $652 billion making it one of the ripest opportunities in the modern day for entrepreneurs to jump into. But alas the world business is not all sunshine and rainbows as it brings a lot of complexity to the table.

The complexities can ruin your experience when starting your business journey if you delve into it without a solid plan. This is why we made a comprehensive step-by-step guide that shows you how you can start a grocery delivery service business to give you the best chances for success.

What is Grocery Delivery Business?

It is crucial to determine the scope of your grocery delivery business operations. Thankfully, there is not much to decode about the field as it is quite self-descriptive and straightforward. As the name suggests, the business is all about delivering groceries. 

There are many ways that you could go about doing this. You could be operating your own grocery store and simply delivering products from your store to the customers. Alternatively, you could also partner up with other stores and deliver products from their shelves. 

You could either have your own app or website for customers to browse through products or sign up for a third-party app that connects you with customers looking for grocery delivery services. 

10 Steps to Follow When Starting a Grocery Delivery Business

Given the vastness of online grocery delivery services, it is very easy to get lost in all the ways to operate your own. We are here to give you a set of 10 easy-to-follow steps that are generalized enough to be applicable to almost all sorts of grocery delivery businesses.

1. Conduct market research

Before you get started on developing your online grocery delivery business plan, you must know if it is even a viable option, to begin with. The best way to do this is by conducting some local market research to see how well your odds of success stack up against the competition.

While you research the market you will also spot some market gaps that are left open and can be fulfilled by your services. Empowered with this information you should know exactly who your target market is and how you can satisfy their needs in the best way possible.

2. Decide offered services

If your local area can sustain a niche online grocery business then it might be the go-to option to stand out from your competitors. Though if you live in an area that does not have a lot of demand for grocery delivery then it would be better to offer more diverse services. 

Deciding the services that you will offer gives you clarity on the steps that you will have to take to give your business the best chances of growth. Some grocery delivery businesses have made their living by simply offering Trader Joe’s delivery, showing how targeting a specific market may be beneficial. 

3. Ensure that you are ready for the job

When running your own grocery delivery business, you cannot afford to have any delays or failures because of mistakes that are easily avoidable. This is why you must ensure that all of your equipment such as your car or mobile phone runs reliably at all times. 

Even if a single bit of equipment fails, you risk hours of delay and dozens of dissatisfied customers. Not to mention the damage to reputation that such events cause which may impact your chances of acquiring new customers in the future. 

4. Register your business

In order to legally operate any business, it must be registered as a legal business entity. This means that you will have to create a solid business structure and register your business name with the local authorities to be permitted to conduct business. Coming to names it is best to go with something simple and easy to remember.

Your business will be successfully registered if it meets local business licensing requirements. You will also have to register it for taxes and have a business bank account that separates personal and business finances appropriately.

5. Get your finances in order

One aspect that small business owners initially struggle with is getting finances in order. Getting your finances in order involves everything from separating personal and business funds to acquiring investments for your business. 

So long as financial troubles exist, there will be a lot of turbulence in business. To eliminate issues with financing, you could take out a feasible loan to have more breathing room. The enhanced business flexibility and opportunity granted by funding can be a game-changer. 

6. Collaborate with local grocery stores 

One of the ways in which many online grocery delivery businesses counter the thin margins is by collaborating with their local stores. Stores are always looking for more customers, and seeing how you can help them reach more customers, they might offer items to you at a discounted rate.

This is how grocery delivery services are able to offset business expenses enough to make a big difference in their bottom line.  Make sure to ask around every single local grocery store to scout such golden opportunities that can boost your profits. 

7. Develop a website or app

The creation of an online portal is essential for any online grocery delivery business as suggested by the name. Going online to provide services ensures that your services are universally available to all local customers.

While there are many ways to build your online portal for customers to reach out to you, make sure that it is targeted towards that local market. Doing this has the benefit of hooking clients to your website or app as fast as possible because of the additional trust built on proximity.

8. Market your business

There is absolutely no way for a customer to find out about your grocery delivery services if you fail to market said services to them. Marketing plays a vital role in the success of any given business as it is what reels in the majority of customers.

For businesses that are just starting out it is considered best to advertise locally using traditional advertising methods. The advice is true as it helps you to reach out to customers in a very impactful manner for relatively less cost and effort making it ideal for new businesses. 

9. Hire new employees

When getting groceries delivered, you cannot have too much on your plate to deal with as it increases the chances of delivery errors or failures. Hiring employees rectifies this issue as your workload is divided and thus reduces the burden that you have to carry.

Hiring additional help is especially important if you plan on expanding the business to new horizons as it allows for a lot more time on your hands. It might also help you cover more technical aspects of business that can give you an edge over the competition.

10. Implement software solutions

Software solutions not only hold the potential to make business operations easier but also give you the opportunity to boost profits when they are plateauing. The best example of a software solution boosting profits is route planners and their ability to save money on gas costs. 

Constantly improving and implementing new software into your business model will not only help you make more money but will also allow you to edge out your competition. The returns that are generated by a measly fee from certain software solutions are too good to miss out on.

Perform Timely Grocery Deliveries Using Upper

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Pros and Cons of Operating a Grocery Delivery Business

Much like any other business, there are specific issues and benefits faced exclusively by the grocery delivery business as well. We weigh the top three benefits and issues of such businesses for you so that you can understand if the business is the right fit for you.

Pros of grocery delivery service 

1. Low cost of entry

Because there is not much that you have to purchase to operate a grocery delivery business it is easy to get started without putting a lot on the line. This allows you to enter or exit the business at your discretion without a lot of upfront concern or investment.

2. High market demand

In the modern world, especially after the pandemic, the need for on-demand delivery services has spiked in both cities and suburbs alike. This gives small businesses a chance to heavily capitalize on the opportunity and quickly gain a large consumer base without a lot of effort.

3. Straightforward business model 

Unlike other businesses, there are not a lot of complexities attached to delivering groceries to households. It is as simple as it gets which means that there is relatively less to learn to get a boatload of loyal customers under your belt within a short period of time. 

Cons of grocery delivery service 

1. High competition 

Given the low cost of entry, there is a great chance of encountering a high number of competitors looking to have a piece of the pie. In such a fiercely competitive atmosphere many business owners get discouraged and bail on the industry altogether.

2. Thin profit margins

Unless you get the products that you deliver from a grocery wholesaler, the profit margins are very thin given the simple nature of the industry. These thin margins really push the patience of most business owners and make the business option unviable for many that enter it. 

3. Heavy workload

To fulfill customer orders you not only need to be very punctual and responsible in your dealing but also have to take care of any aspects that may cause customer dissatisfaction. The job is also physically demanding and requires you to be on top of your physical health to be efficient.

How Upper Makes Delivering Groceries more Profitable for Businesses

The thin profit margins that are a part of the grocery delivery business are what make many business owners constantly look for ways to boost profits. If you find yourself in the same precarious situation then meet the Upper route planner. 

Our state-of-the-art route planner can easily whip up the most flawless delivery routes for grocery delivery businesses within minutes with its spectacular route planning abilities. These routes are optimized to give you the fastest routes that save you the most on fuel and time.

It is of vital importance for a grocery store to have such a software solution on its side given its utility and potential in day-to-day deliveries. Gone are the days of strenuously planning routes using manual ways. It is time to embrace the new era with Upper route planner.

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Ditch the old methods of planning routes in favor of an automated solution. Get highly efficient routes built for maximized profits and reduced your extra workload.


To understand if it is a good idea to start a grocery delivery business in a rural area, it is best to conduct a general survey of the demographics of the area. Usually, most rural areas might not require or afford grocery delivery services due to low transactional value. Though there are still exceptions. For example, a rural area with an aging population might need grocery delivery services.

The best way of guaranteeing repeat business is by providing consistently reliable services that do not leave any room for disappointment. Doing this shows customers that you are a business that is worth doing business with given the consistent results delivered by your efforts.

The best way to partner with local stores for your grocery delivery business is by initiating a conversation over email or in person. This conversation should revolve around how your business holds potential for greater sales for the store and your expertise in the field, demonstrating every way in which you can be beneficial to their goals.


The online grocery delivery industry is one that is very attractive to new entrepreneurs and for good reason. It is a business option that can be started with relatively low cost, risk, and experience allowing for almost any aspirant to start their very own business easily. 

But alas this option does bring its own unique challenges for you to deal with. The thin profit margins and high competition can demotivate even the most seasoned businessmen. To flourish you must always be on the edge for new solutions that may increase your profits. 

One solution that does ensure a boost in profitability is using Upper to plan your delivery routes in the most efficient manner imaginable with just a few clicks. We have made sure that you face no hesitation in trying it for yourself with our special .

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner, a route planning and optimization software. With 28+ years of experience in the technology industry, Rakesh is a subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems. His ultimate goal with Upper Route Planner is to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges and simplify operations such as route planning, scheduling, dispatching, take a proof of delivery, manage drivers, real time tracking, customer notifications and more. He loves sharing his thoughts on eliminating delivery management challenges via blogs. Read more.