Supermarkets pick up the pace with curbside pickup

June 27, 2016 02:47 PM

Major supermarket chains have been expanding the geographic reach of their e-grocery services, giving shoppers more options to buy online for curbside pickup.

Last week Michigan-based supermarket chain and e-retailer Meijer Inc. announced a significant expansion of its Curbside e-grocery program, which it began piloting in one Grand Rapids store a little more than a year ago. Meijer, No. 332 in the 2016 Top 500 Guide, added four stores in suburban Detroit to the program this month and will be rapidly expanding the program shortly. Meijer says it will have 14 stores offering the service in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area by October. By the end of the year it will have Curbside e-grocery available at a total of 33 stores, including stores in Lansing, Mich.; Indianapolis; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Ohio and Illinois.

Shoppers place their order online and pick a day and time for pickup. Meijer offers curbside pickup for online orders of 12 items or less within an hour. For 13 items or more, shoppers can pick up their orders within three hours. Meijer is offering the service for free in select markets right now, including Urbana, Ill.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Brighton, Mich. The standard charge ranges from $4.95-$6.95.

Michael Ross, vice president of digital shopping and customer marketing at Meijer, says each store either has or will have 15 employees trained to fulfill online orders. The supermarket expects the number of orders placed for curbside pickup at each store to eventually reach 100. So far, more than 80% of weekly orders come from returning e-grocery customers.

“The way customers shop for food continues to change and our efforts to expand the number of stores where Meijer Curbside is offered is one more way we are bringing more convenience to our customers,” he says.

26% of U.S. consumers will have bought fresh groceries online by the end of the year, up from 8% in 2015, according to research from investment banking firm Morgan Stanley. It estimates consumers will spend more than $42 billion on groceries online this year, up 163% from $16 billion in 2015.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4 in the Top 500, since May has added curbside pickup for online grocery orders to at least seven stores in Texas: three in El Paso, and one each in Waco, Belton, Killeen and Copperas Cove, all of which are new e-grocery markets for Wal-Mart. Elsewhere in Texas, Wal-Mart launched e-grocery service in Austin this spring and said it would double the number of e-grocery-enabled stores it has in Dallas and Houston. Further, Kroger Co., No. 83, will add its buy online, pickup curbside e-grocery offering ClickList to 20 stores in Dallas and Houston this summer.

Consumers can expect “a steady cadence of more expansion throughout the year,” a Walmart spokesman told Internet Retailer this spring.

That would include rollouts of Walmart Grocery in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., metropolitan areas, each of which saw three stores gain e-grocery services last week. The stores now with curbside pickup for e-grocery orders near New Orleans are in Covington, Slidell and Kenner. Near Baton Rouge, the stores are in Gonzales, Denham Springs and Prairieville.

Walmart Grocery is now available in well over 30 metropolitan areas in the United States. A year ago, it was available in five.

Safeway Inc., No. 147 in the Top 500, added e-grocery to a store in Largo, Fla., near Tampa, this week. The Largo store is the first Safeway in the state to offer e-grocery. Safeway is part of Albertsons, which operates more than 2,200 supermarkets in 34 states and the District of Columbia. It now offers, through its various divisions, e-grocery services in eight states.

While supermarket chains are quickly adding e-grocery options, most for pickup at the store, web-only Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500, last week began taking grocery orders from consumers in Boston through AmazonFresh. Orders are delivered to homes. AmazonFresh is now in eight U.S. markets, up from six a year ago.

Internet Retailer’s 2016 Online Shopping survey, taken in April by more than 500 U.S. online shoppers, found 39.5% of consumers said they would be willing to buy groceries online if it were available in their area. 15.1% said they had already done so and 45.4% said they weren’t willing to.

With quick pace of rollouts in urban and suburban areas, the e-grocery race is on.




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