Grocery shopping in Tuscaloosa has become much more convenient, thanks to the efforts of Culverhouse College of Commerce and Manderson Graduate School of Business grad Ethan Mergen.
As an Area Manager for Instacart, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery startup, Mergen is responsible for planning and carrying out entries into new markets from his home base in Houston, Texas.
Instacart is one of several companies in the grocery delivery business and it works by partnering with established local grocery and retail outlets like Publix and CVS and enlisting a team of “shoppers” to fulfill and deliver orders placed online.
As of September 28, 2017 Tuscaloosa is now serviced by Instacart. Mergen has come back to T-Town to help with the launch-week logistics.
“I manage operations all over Texas and handle regional market launches such as recent ones in Mobile, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, and now in Tuscaloosa. I meet with retailers, work with our shoppers, and manage PR coverage,” he says.
Mergen explains his role in how Instacart enters into a new market: “Typically for smaller markets like Tuscaloosa, it’s just me meeting with shoppers and establishing the ground game. For larger areas such as St. Louis, I bring a team along due to the coverage needs. The team in San Francisco handles a lot of the logistical operations.”
Ethan graduated in May 2017 from the University of Alabama with his masters in marketing, with a concentration in digital and social media marketing. Before that, he earned both a BS degree in finance from Culverhouse as well as a BS in hospitality management from the University’s College of Human Environmental Sciences.
“Professors were always willing to work with me -- I loved the experience I had at the University of Alabama. Furthermore, the staff in Culverhouse’s Career Center were so great in helping me with professional development,” Mergen explains.
The emerging sector of online grocery delivery may be a bit of a calling for Mergen: he co-founded a business doing just that in Tuscaloosa while in graduate school. He says, “I see myself long-term in this business, I love how we are changing lives and simplifying daily routines for people. I couldn’t ask for a better position to be in.”
He adds, “Eventually Instacart’s goals are to service the entire country. I look forward to being a part of that effort.”
In addition to Tuscaloosa proper, Instacart will service the Woodland Forest, Alpine
Hills, Hall, Woodland Pines, Holt, Samantha, Windham Springs, Cottondale, Northport, Wood Estates, Wood Villas and Wood Ridge.