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Amazon and Whole Foods could revolutionize grocery delivery. But do shoppers want it?

Amazon and Whole Foods could revolutionize grocery delivery. But do shoppers want it?

A giant in the technology industry had a bold idea: reinvent the way people shop, rendering grocery stores a quaint reminder of the past.

That company was Webvan, and it attracted $800 million in funding before filing for bankruptcy at the peak of the dot-com bust nearly two decades ago. The lesson in all this? Building a grocery business on wheels is terrifyingly expensive and inherently difficult because many shoppers simply aren’t ready to outsource their supermarket visits.

“Many people want to touch and feel their groceries,” said Peter Relan, the former head of technology at Webvan. “In focus groups, we found there was some deep evolutionary biology there. People said,...

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