Nearly every week it seems there’s a new sign of the grocery industry and venture capital investors’ growing interest in the “last-mile” delivery of tomatoes and canned peas.

Pressure has been mounting on food retailers to integrate online grocery ordering since Inc. acquired Whole Foods Market last year. And the race is heating up to attract customers who want to skip the store altogether and have their online grocery orders delivered.

Following a pilot in the Minneapolis area last fall, Target said in April it would expand its Drive Up service to reach nearly 1,000 stores by the end of 2018. Under Drive Up, Target app shoppers can have their items brought out to their cars by a store team member. Earlier this year, Target announced free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of orders on—many of which are shipped from stores.

The rapid pace of delivery-related activity is a natural outgrowth of the broader consumer trends, says Steve Bishop, managing partner and co-founder of Brick Meets Click, a consultancy for grocery retailers. The industry is increasingly moving online, he says, and delivery…

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