People might not be aware of the full impact the current shipping crisis will have on higher prices for consumer goods, a leading economist told Bloomberg.
Even if companies pass the cost of rising shipping fares straight to customers, this will only have a slight effect on headline inflation – but its full impact might be being overlooked, Volker Wieland, economics professor at Frankfurt’s Goethe University in Frankfurt and a member of the German government’s council of economic advisers, said.
“Even if the order of magnitude is smaller than estimated, the dynamic builds over a year and has significant effects,” he told Bloomberg.
“That means there’s a danger we’re underestimating the impact.”
A shortage of workers, lack of shipping containers, and massive port traffic jams caused by growing demand for imported goods are all causing shipping costs to soar, Insider’s Rachel Premack reported. According to the Drewry World Container Index, shipping containers cost nearly four times as much as they did this time last year.
Ports face other problems, too. Authorities introduced stricter COVID-19 measures after a recent coronavirus outbreak in Guangdong, South China, causing congestion at four major ports.
Chick-fil-A has filed to trademark the name “Outfox Wings” ahead of a new restaurant concept slated to open later this year.
The chicken chain submitted a trademark application to US regulators on May 4, documents show. The logo “consists of the word OUTFOX over the word WINGS with the image of a fox’s face with its tail covering its mouth inside the middle of the first O in OUTFOX,” the filing says.
Chick-fil-A has no plans to serve wings at already-existing restaurants, a spokesperson said, noting that the company is “exploring a new delivery kitchen concept to pilot later this year.”
The new concept is called Little Blue Menu and will launch in Nashville in late 2021 and Atlanta in 2022, the company announced Wednesday. It will serve “both the classic menu plus a variety of different cuisines – think salads, roasted chicken, wings and more – all made under one roof, arriving in one bundled order.”
In other words, some southern Chick-fil-A fans will be able to order their favorite spicy chicken sandwiches and fries along with Chick-fil-A’s first-ever wings.
The chain says the name is a reference to Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy’s original blue menus.
Other restaurant chains have also experimented with delivery concepts over the last year. Applebees launched Cosmic Wings, a delivery-only virtual brand with Cheetos-flavored wings. Outback Steakhouse parent company Bloomin’ Brands launched Tender Shack, a virtual chicken tender restaurant, and Cracker Barrel debuted a delivery chicken and biscuits concept in Indianapolis. “Outfox Wings,” could follow suit as a separate virtual restaurant.
Delivery drivers at Imperfect Foods have reportedly won an election to form a union.
Bloomberg first reported on Friday that a group of the grocery delivery startup’s drivers in Northern California had won an election overseen by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. Results showed that 28 drivers had voted to unionize while 23 were against it. The union would represent about 80 employees if it materializes, according to the report.
Imperfect Foods got its start in 2015, mainly selling produce that did not meet supermarkets’ cosmetic standards but was still edible. Since then, it has added other kinds of food, such as fresh meats and beauty products. The roster of customers for its weekly grocery deliveries has exploded thanks, in part, to the pandemic.
Imperfect Foods told Insider that it would challenge the union results, saying that the election results “were materially impacted by the inability of certain drivers to timely obtain ballots.” A representative for the United Food & Commercial Workers union told Bloomberg that it “believes in the integrity of the results of the election” and plans to bargain with Imperfect Foods’s management.
Workers at Imperfect told Bloomberg that the union drive began last summer in an effort to fight high healthcare costs and heavy workloads delivering boxes of fresh foods to customers.
The startup is one of several digital grocery marketplaces that has seen sales balloon and fundraising soar over the past year thanks to pandemic-driven demand. As of January, Imperfect alone had raised $239 million, according to Pitchbook.
Unionization efforts at delivery-focused companies have suffered setbacks in recent months. In January, Instacart laid off its only unionized employees as part of a broader move that affected hundreds of positions. This month, a high-profile unionization election at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, failed to get enough votes from workers there.
Companies that rely on gig workers to make deliveries got a boost during last year’s elections when California voters approved Proposition 22. The measure’s passage preserved the independent contractor designation instead of having to classify them as full employees.
Unlike at Instacart or many other startups, the Imperfect Foods delivery workers who voted to unionize are not independent contractors, meaning that they’re entitled to protections under federal law, including organizing rights. Recent job postings for Imperfect drivers in San Francisco, Boston, and the Washington, DC area described full-time positions with pay of between $17 and $22 an hour and benefits like medical and dental insurance.
Do you work at Imperfect Foods or another grocery company and have a story to share? Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, text, or encrypted messaging app Signal at (808) 854-4501 using a non-work phone.
Domino’s will start delivering pizzas with autonomous self-driving robots from Nuro, the companies announced.
The program will be available to certain customers in Houston, Texas using Nuro’s R2, the first autonomous on-road delivery vehicle approved by the US Department of Transportation.
Customers can order pizza online and opt to receive their delivery through Nuro. Then, they’ll get texts with information about the vehicle’s location and a PIN to enter on the touchscreen and get their pizza.
Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer Dennis Maloney says Nuro is part of the evolution of delivery.
“This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations,” Maloney said in a statement. “The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino’s existing delivery experts to better support the customers’ needs.”
Pizza and wings were hailed as early winners in the pandemic as Americans increasingly ordered from brands that were already set up to accommodate delivery, like Papa John’s and Wingstop. Domino’s added over 600 new stores in 2020, overall sales were up 10.4% for the year. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry saw huge losses, up to $30 billion in March 2020 and $50 billion in April 2020.
California-based Nuro is using this delivery push as a chance to expand. So far, the company has partnered with Walmart, CVS, Kroger, and Chipotle.
“Nuro’s mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we’re launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino’s,” co-founder and president Dave Ferguson said in a statement.
Amazon apologized Friday for a snide tweet it sent last week denying the well-documented occurrence of its delivery drivers peeing in bottles while on the job.
The tweet was a response to Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of California, who first said: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”
Amazon replied: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
But in an apology posted to the Amazon News site, Amazon acknowledged their tweet was “incorrect.”
“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” the post said.
Amazon said the tweet “did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers,” adding that their fulfillment centers have “dozens” of bathrooms and employees are free to use them “any time.”
It also said drivers have trouble finding restrooms due to traffic and being on rural routes, and that the issue has been exacerbated by closed public bathrooms during the pandemic.
In the apology, Amazon said it was a “long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon,” but that the company will look for ways to solve it. The post also included many tweets of people saying delivery drivers who work for companies other than Amazon also pee in bottles while on the job.
The combative tweet was one of several sent by Amazon accounts ahead of the union vote.
“I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” said Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer unit, in response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plans to meet with the workers in Alabama.
The Amazon News account also lashed out at Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a tweet after she accused the company of exploiting loopholes to pay low taxes.
“You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them,” the tweet said. “If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them.”
Amazon plans to set up more delivery stations in New York City to power the last-mile of its order process and provide faster deliveries to customers, the company said.
The tech giant will launch ten delivery stations in the Big Apple throughout 2021 and beyond, two of which are now operational, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Insider in an email this week.
The new sites will be located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Amazon has five operational delivery stations across the five boroughs including two in the Bronx, one in Brooklyn, one on Staten Island, and one in Queens, according to the spokesperson. It also has two operational delivery stations on Long Island and a sortation center and a fulfillment center on Staten Island.
As online shopping surged during the pandemic, with people staying home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Amazon went looking for warehouse space to expand its footprint in New York City, the country’s biggest market, the New York Times reported this week. None of Amazon’s competitors, including Walmart and Target, have a warehouse in the city, the Times said.
“We want to get as close to the customer as possible to ensure we can offer fast shipping speeds to customers,” the Amazon spokesperson told Insider.
Each delivery station will offer around 100 to 150 jobs with a wage of $15 per hour and work benefits, the spokesperson said.
Amazon has had a fraught history trying to set up in New York City. In 2018, Amazon announced it would build part of its second headquarter in New York, saying the project would provide 25,000 full-time jobs and a $2.5 billion investment in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The company would have received an estimated $3 billion in tax incentives.
However, the tech company faced backlash from local politicians, New Yorkers, and labor union representatives who argued that the project could increase rents, overcrowd schools, and congest the subway system.
Later in 2019, Amazon confirmed to Insider that it signed a lease for a new 335,000-foot office in New York City that is set to open in 2021. Located in the Hudson Yards area, the new office will employ over 1,500 people, Amazon said.
Amazon plans to continue benefitting from the online shopping surge throughout 2021 as it looks into ways to facilitate delivery and reshuffle inventory such as boosting its air cargo operations.
It launched over 200 new sites across the US in 2020, including fulfillment and sortation centers, and delivery stations, according to the spokesperson.
Bird of Paradise (small)Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Home and interior design magazines frequently espouse this simple trick for refreshing your space: add a house plant. It’s not only a strategic aesthetic move – research has found exposure to nature improves emotional well-being, making you happier and even more creative.
After hearing similar feedback from friends, plant enthusiasts Ron Radu and Nico Bartoli wanted to show people that owning plants can actually be hassle-free and thus created Léon & George, a full-service online startup that delivers potted, responsibly sourced plants right to your door.
What is Léon & George?
Radu and Bartoli started in 2016 by partnering with local growers who were looking for a change from big box stores and nurseries, which often placed unrealistic demands on crop growth or didn’t store plants in optimal growing environments.
Though the company has now scaled to a point where the founders don’t need to turn their own homes into mini-greenhouses, the level of care and attention remains: they source the highest-quality greenery from US growers, and all plants are stored under conditions that imitate their native climates.
Customers can choose from a collection of attractive plants, like the airy Birds of Paradise or the Jade Pothos, then pair their selection with a simple and stylish ceramic planter. You can also shop by “Benefits” (easy-care, air purifiers, safe for pets) and “Light” (medium-to-bright, low). Everything except shipping is included in the price: the plant, pot, wood stand, and care instructions. Shipping is only free on orders of $100 or more.
Review of Léon & George
I ordered the Zanzibar Gem, namely because the website indicated it’s “near indestructible” and can “handle long periods of neglect” – music to the ears of traditionally terrible plant owners like myself. It can also handle low-light environments, so I could plan to keep it right at my office desk instead of a distant window sill.
The potted plant arrived upright in a box, and thanks to layers of cardboard support and bubble wrap, it emerged from the shipping journey fresh and unscathed.
Caring for my Zanzibar Gem has been a breeze. In the two years that it’s sat on my desk, I basically water it whenever I think to (which is really not often) and coworkers comment how green and shiny it is. I’ve been pleasantly surprised about the plant’s resiliency. Despite many desk moves and imperfect care, my plant has held up. Unfortunately, I haven’t been at the office for the past six months due to the pandemic so I can’t say how it’s held up without water for half a year, but it was a great desk mate nonetheless.
If you’re worried about plant care falling by the wayside, Léon & George sends Weekly Plant Care Reminder emails to nudge you to pay a little more attention to your plant. You can also email a “plant doctor” at email@example.com if you have specific questions and need personalized attention.
The bottom line
My experience with the service couldn’t have been easier. Since I live in a big city, it’s inconvenient and tiring to visit a nursery and haul a large plant onto the subway, so having it delivered (the company delivers nationwide) instead was a major boon.
The potting was already done for me, and the site offers a lot of support if you run into any trouble while caring for your plant. Buying greenery from Léon & George is also an investment back into the Earth because the company plants one tree in a US National Forest through the National Forest Foundation for every plant sold.
Léon & George‘s selection of high-quality plants will appease plant parents of all types. If you’re new to plant care, the site offers guidance and low-maintenance options, and if your room is already filled with greenery, Léon & George’s all-in-one service makes it that much more convenient to add to your collection.
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I ordered flowers from online flower delivery service BloomsyBox, which sources fresh, vibrant blooms from small and sustainable farms around the world.
Although it lacks advanced filtering features, BloomsyBox offers a healthy variety of beautiful flowers, from roses to tropical flowers so you should have no trouble finding a bouquet for any occasion.
The delivery is secure and reliable – you won’t need to worry about damaged flowers arriving for your loved one
Due to possible coronavirus-related shipping delays, you should order your Valentine’s Day flowers soon so they can arrive on time.
When you can’t hand-deliver fresh flowers from your local farmers market or florist to special someone, an online flower delivery service is a great alternative.
Many of us here at Insider Reviews have tried these delivery services (The Bouqs Co. and UrbanStems are among our favorites), and to our pleasant surprise, they offer a large variety of beautiful options and they’re usually quite reliable.
BloomsyBox uses the “farm-to-table” model of partnering with small, sustainable, and family-owned farms in South Africa, France, Holland, South America, and California. All the flowers are hand-picked and cut just a few days before you receive them, so they’re super fresh. Even after traveling in a box, they emerge looking vibrant and chipper.
On the sustainability front, BloomsyBox only partners with Rainforest Alliance-certified farms. This means the farms don’t use chemicals in their fertilizer and they have strict standards for the fair treatment of workers.
There are many flowers to choose from on the site, including roses of different colors; mixed bouquets with flowers like lilies, scabiosa, and sunflowers just to name a few; and tropical flowers. Individual bouquets start at $39.99 and potted plants such as orchids start at $34.99 before shipping, while recurring subscriptions start at $44.99 and include free shipping.
Once you’ve picked out a bouquet or two you like, select a delivery date. One downside of BloomsyBox’s website is that you can’t filter the collection by specific delivery dates. You should have a few backups in mind in case you click through to a bouquet’s product page and discover it’s not available for your preferred delivery date.
At checkout, you can indicate whether the delivery is a gift and write a gift message. After placing your order, you should receive a confirmation email, and then another email notifying you when the bouquet has actually shipped.
I ordered the Sunrise Point bouquet in hopes of brightening up my current work-from-home setup, and it arrived within the week. It’s not a surprise that it’s no longer available – since flowers are seasonal, the variety of bouquets will change occasionally. If you’re looking for something similar that has a bright, cheery vibe, I’d suggest the Ray of Light or Happy Time bouquets.
It came in a cardboard box wrapped in eco-friendly paper and it was secured tightly to the side of the box. A packet of flower food was also included. The flowers looked like they survived the trip from Quito, Ecuador (according to the FedEx tracking page) quite well – nothing was damaged or wilted.
The bouquet looked great in a vase and I was excited to see the individual flowers bloom fully in a few days. Overall, I was impressed.
The bottom line
While BloomsyBox lacks more advanced features like filtering by delivery date or flower type, I still found it an easy and enjoyable flower delivery experience. You’ll appreciate the transparency about the flower source, as well as the quality of the actual flowers and reliability of service.
For something that’s supposed to make your night more fun or relaxing, shopping for alcohol isn’t exactly easy.
Even if you go into a liquor store knowing what type of alcohol you’re looking for, there are countless brands to consider. And, after you make your purchase, you have to keep those glass bottles safe and secure through a bumpy car ride (or worse – a long walk home).
Luckily, online delivery services are making the ordeal of buying alcohol much more convenient and enjoyable, as they do for most things (see: buying mattresses, gourmet foods, and even large house plants). You won’t have to figure out how to lug five bottles of wine home or make a mad dash to the store 15 minutes before your virtual happy hour starts.
Companies that sell alcohol online also help you discover new varieties. With the help of personalization algorithms, their recommendations are often scarily accurate. You’ll waste less time and money by taking advantage of these online guides.
If you want to buy your alcohol online, we’ve rounded up our favorite retailers below and divided them into these categories:
General online shop: For when you know exactly what you’re looking for
Discovery-based: For when you’re not sure what you like
Kits and mixers: For cocktail cravings
Most places have implemented contactless delivery and ID scanning, and the elimination of customer signatures to minimize contact with its delivery people, so be sure to pay attention to delivery methods.
Here are the 18 best places to buy alcohol online:
General online shop: For when you know exactly what you’re looking for
Indie purveyors are brought to the forefront at NakedWines.com, where “Angel” customers act as investors to support small winemakers around the world. To become an Angel, you deposit $40 to your account every month to spend at any time on more wine. This membership gives you access to exclusive wines, discounts (40%-60% off), and tasting events.
ReserveBar is the perfect place to shop for yourself and pick up gifts because it offers premium brands like Johnnie Walker and Ciroc. It’s also where you’ll find cool limited-edition products such as the Game of Thrones collection and rare beauties like a $3,650 Louis XIII cognac. To make it shine on your bar cart, add a custom engraving to a spirit of your choice.
Thrive Market is a marketplace focusing on natural, non-toxic, and healthy brands, so its wine selection is narrowed down to varieties that are pesticide-free, have no added sugar, and are even biodynamic. They come in variety bundles or 6-bottle cases.
Drizly has your alcohol needs covered by delivering whatever you’re in the mood for in under an hour. Search the exact liquor, wine, or beer you need on Drizly. The prices aren’t marked up, and the delivery fee is only $5.
Saucey isn’t available in as many cities as Drizly, but it promises even faster delivery (30 minutes) and it’s free, with no minimum purchase required. Get your Bud Light alongside your Ballast Point, then pick up some snacks to pair with those icy cold beverages.
Minibar is available in more markets than Saucey and is great for people who want the option of in-store pickup or exclusive wines. Delivery fees can depend on your local store, but you’ll still get your order within the hour.
FreshDirect offers the full grocery-shopping experience, with none of the inconveniences. The New York-based delivery service carries both local and name-brand alcohol and runs deals every week, just like your local grocery store. It has a whole section of organic wine, plus a category called Select Sips, which features wine and spirits sourced from around the world.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Wine.com is the world’s largest wine store, where you can shop wine from regions as different as Africa, China, and Greece. Though the options are vast, they become a little easier to navigate with a filtering system, professional ratings, and a recommendation engine. Become a member for $49 annually to receive free standard shipping with no minimum orders.
California-based winery Winc, which was co-founded by sommelier Brian Smith, uses an online Palate Profile, along with your own ratings, to recommend and ship wines tailored to your tastes. The wines, which come from winemakers all over the world as well as Winc’s own vineyard, start at $13 a bottle. There’s no fee or commitment to join, and you can skip a month’s shipment any time you want.
Note: Firstleaf is providing contact-less delivery by eliminating customer signatures.
The barriers of entry to Firstleaf are low: it has a great introductory offer where you get your first six bottles for just $39.95, plus free shipping. Afterward, you’ll receive six bottles at a time, at a frequency convenient for you. The company prides itself on its custom algorithm that predicts which one of its many award-winning wine options you’ll like, and if you don’t like a bottle, you’ll get a refund.
Every three months, Vinebox sends you a box of nine glasses of wine packaged in individual vials. Vinebox’s unique bottling technology ensures they maintain their full flavor and mouthfeel as they make their way to your doorstep. Each quarter’s box contains seasonal varieties, wines you should be drinking right now, and other fun picks. With each box, you’ll also receive up to $30 in credits to buy the full-size versions. Vinebox also has holiday boxes in festive packaging (currently unavailable), which are great as gifts or a treat to yourself.
Two MIT grads are behind the monthly wine club Bright Cellars, which sends four new wines each month for $80. The company has a competitive curation process — it says it only picks one out of every 12 wines it tries for the monthly collections and promises to show you hidden gems from vineyards in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and South America.
The only drawback of loving craft beers is that you can’t always buy all the ones you want to try. Every day, Tavour gives you access to two beers you can’t normally get in your area (say, Anchorage Brewing’s IPA) and you claim the ones you want. It delivers to your door, so you get an international craft brewery tour without ever leaving your house. The experience also connects you to a community of fellow beer lovers.
Flaviar is a club for those who love fine spirits and have a desire to explore beyond the usual names (e.g. Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker). With a membership, you get a complimentary full-size bottle, plus a Tasting Box every quarter, free distillery tours, and access to detailed bottle profiles. It prides itself on sharing rare and previously unattainable whiskey, rum, cognac, and more.
Recipe cards, top-shelf spirits, and all the ingredients you need for two different cocktails are included in each month’s SaloonBox. It sends you only what you need to make the drinks, which means nothing ever goes to waste and you don’t have to search high and low for obscure ingredients. Each box is meant for two people, so pick your favorite person to try delicious cocktails like Blueberry Bourbon Collins and Kentucky Rosaritas.
Shaker & Spoon doesn’t send you the liquor, but it will send you everything else — syrups, bitters, mixers, garnishes — to make 12 drinks. The three recipes in each box are designed and recommended by actual bartenders, who will be sad to miss you at the bar but understand the desire to simply stay in tonight.
You don’t have to wait each month to shop for a variety of delicious cocktails at Cocktail Courier. They usually come in multiple serving sizes, so you can serve up drinks to your entire friend group, and come with the alcohol. The site also sells barware and party supplies.
For gourmet gifts like fancy chocolate, creatively flavored popcorn, and picnic-worthy charcuterie boards, we love shopping at Mouth. It’s also where you can shop the drinks to go along with these delicious snacks. The mixed drink kits, unfortunately, don’t contain the liquor. However, you’ll be more than happy with the artisanal mixers, seasonal specials, and quality barware offered by the site.
Your groceries, pizza, and medicine can now be delivered via robotic vehicles if you live in California, as Nuro received the state’s first commercial permit for autonomous delivery.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley’s streets have been bustling with self-driving vehicles from an array of companies for years. But those vehicles have only been issued permits for testing on public roads. Now, the robotics-startup Nuro has an official stamp of approval to start its paid service, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California. We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops,” said Steve Gordon, DMV director, in a statement.
In 2017, California had granted Nuro approval to test its vehicles with safety drivers inside. In April 2020, it said the company could begin testing without drivers.
Now, the Mountain View-based company, which raised $500 million earlier this year, can deploy its vehicles for paid deliveries.
It’ll begin service with modified Prius vehicles set in fully autonomous mode, then roll out its fleet of R2 vehicles, which don’t have driver’s seats, said David Estrada, chief legal and policy officer, in a blog post. Nuro, in early 2020 got US government permission to ditch the mirrors on its R2 fleet because, well, they don’t have seats or a steering wheel.
“R2 was purposefully engineered for safety, with a design that prioritizes what’s outside – the people with whom we share the roads – over what’s inside,” Estrada said. It has a top speed of 35 mph and a small four-foot frame. It operates with thermal imaging, radar, and 360-degree cameras, to drive on the public road.
The deliveries will start in two communities near Nuro’s headquarters.
The company said driverless deliveries would have a “big impact” on Californians, both during and after the pandemic. They’ll help people who can’t drive and help streamline the lives of big, busy families, Nuro said.
“We’re excited to see these benefits grow into the everyday lives of the people in our communities, in the places we also call home,” Estrada said.
The company has ambitions beyond local grocery delivery. Nuro last week announced it was acquiring Ike, an autonomous trucking startup, for an undisclosed sum.
Among severalpatents filed by Nuro is one detailing how advertisements might work on the side of a self-driving vehicle.
The patent describes how a self-driving vehicle’s sensor would pick up information about its surroundings and then serve an ad on the side of the vehicle based on that input. If it’s raining, say, the vehicle might display an ad for umbrellas.