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Delivery service takes Web shopping to the next level:

September 19, 2005

Richard Cherry knows the 30-minute delivery concept isn't new. Pizzerias have been promising to deliver pies to the door in 30 minutes or less for years.

And grocery stores have tried something similar, delivering milk, eggs and bread, but generally promising next-day delivery.

Cherry wanted to deliver groceries-and more-in 30 minutes, so he teamed with 30-minute pizzeria guru Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, and came up with 30MinuteMall.

Using delivery employees known as CyberValets, virtual grocery stores and Web access to 250 retailers, 30MinuteMall shoppers can buy a tube of toothpaste from Osco Drug, cat food from PetsMart, dinner from Buca di Beppo, and a gallon of milk without ever leaving their home or office. And they often get the items delivered in 30 minutes or less.

Cherry and Monaghan designed and built a specialized grocery store just for 30MinuteMall shoppers, who place orders online. A CyberValet selects order items from narrow aisles, puts them in specialized shopping carts that are easier to maneuver, and typically checks out in about seven minutes.

While only one 30MinuteMall grocery store exists now, in Greenwood, two more are planned by the end of the year-one in the Carmel/Fishers area and the other in Speedway.

But 30MinuteMall offers more than groceries. About 250 retailers and restaurants are also online at www.30minutemall.com.

Shoppers link directly to the retailer's Web site from the 30MinuteMall site to get up-to-date prices.

Once a shopper places an order, Cyber-Valets, who are independent contractors, receive a message via handheld computers.

The CyberValet calls the shopper, confirms the order, purchases the order, and delivers the items to the consumer, who reimburses the shopper.

In addition to convenience, the system can keep shoppers from making impulse buys, Cherry said.

Shoppers pay a fee that varies by retailer; most charge under $10. Some waive the fee for large orders.

About 45 people a day are signing up for 30MinuteMall, Cherry said. He's looking to expand the number of CyberValets from the current 20 to about 300 within a year to serve a radius that extends seven miles outside Interstate 465. Then he plans to take the idea outside the Indianapolis market.

"Our biggest problem was people saying you can't do that," Cherry said. "But we are."


Cherry
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