The Dawn of Digital Groceries

Customers can now buy their groceries from the comfort of their homes thanks to ClickList at Suncrest Kroger.

A screaming toddler at your heels, the aisles quickly transforming into an endless maze, and the only way out is by purchasing your groceries—except you don’t remember what to buy because the list is sitting at home on the kitchen counter.

Shoppers no longer have to experience the inconveniences of a typical grocery trip. Kroger at Suncrest Towne Centre now provides patrons the option to pre-order groceries online and go to the store—at a suitable pre-scheduled time—for curbside pickup. That’s it. No more hour-long shopping trips—just 10 minutes or so to pick up your groceries. Parents no longer have to drag their kids through the store, and those with mobility issues can get the groceries they need without the hassle of journeying through a crowded supermarket. Mary Moree, a Morgantown mother of two, appreciates the ease and brevity of pickup. Especially when she’s accompanied by her son, who will be 3 in July. “He can last 20 minutes, but that’s not long enough to shop for your groceries,” Moree says.

The online ordering service—which was launched at the Suncrest Kroger in January—is called ClickList and can be accessed at the store’s website. Customers take a few minutes to create accounts with their Kroger Plus cards, and then they can browse the selection of groceries available for pre-order. Once they are finished, they are prompted to select a pickup date and time— which can be anywhere from four hours after they order, up to a week after—and they’re finished.

In addition to the convenience, ClickList allows customers to specify the way their groceries are chosen. Like ripe bananas? Prefer them on the greener side? When placing the order online, you can make note of that. The goal of the process is to provide as much choice in products as possible. The customer makes the final choice at pickup—if she doesn’t care for the quality of the cucumbers the Kroger ClickList selector picked, she can choose not to buy them. If the store does not have certain items stocked, it will offer a similar alternative at the same cost—or free. Shoppers can choose not to purchase the substitutions.

Customers do pay a fee of $4.95, but Kroger waives it for the first three orders. The selection of groceries available online, says E-Commerce Field Specialist Jason Talerico, doesn’t include every in-store product. “There are some exclusions to ClickList which vary based on law and food safety—nothing that requires pharmacist approval, for West Virginia, and we can’t sell tobacco or alcohol, or gift cards,” Talerico says. Nevertheless, the selection includes a wide variety of options—more than 40,000 products.

Moree is expecting her third child and has been using the service from the start. Her ClickList experience has been mostly positive. “I can order just what I need at the touch of a button, and then I can pick up the order when I’m already out,” Moree says. In addition to saving time, she has reduced her spending by downloading digital coupons. She also likes that she is guaranteed a parking place: ClickList customers drive around to the side of the store and pull into designated spaces near the office where groceries are stored—in refrigerators and freezers if necessary— until pickup. “And when I have the baby, I can feed it when someone else is loading the groceries.”

Other customers—like Morgantown resident Stacy Jamison—say ClickList has helped them to reduce spending by avoiding impulse purchases that can happen during a traditional grocery trip. Online orders can be filed without the temptation of spontaneously buying the jar of Nutella beside of the peanut butter a shopper actually has on his list. Consumers can easily stick to their lists of goods. Shoppers can also download digital coupons onto their smartphones and show them during the transaction, “instead of fumbling for them at the checkout or having my son want to play with the coupons,” Moree says.

In addition to offering pickup shortly after an order is placed, ClickList lets users modify their orders up to midnight of the day before pickup. If shoppers would like to delay pickup, workers at the ClickList office can adjust to better suit a person’s schedule. This ability to control the pickup timing of an order and modify the selected items helps those with constantly changing schedules.

Tia Richards, ClickList supervisor at Suncrest Kroger, has noticed the average demographic of the ClickList user population consists of busy mothers and elderly persons. However, people of many ages and backgrounds have embraced ClickList and recommend it to their friends and families. Says Kingwood resident and Ruby Memorial Hospital employee Tammy Kelly, “I’ve told my family and everyone else—my daughters use it too.”

ClickList has created a demand for additional employees at Kroger. This initial need prompted Suncrest Kroger to add about 20 new staff members. Richards believes this is just the beginning of job growth, as the expansion of ClickList usage will add to the need for more selectors. Despite the arduous task of grocery selection, jobs have filled quickly. During one shift, Richards says, she walked 10 and a half miles gathering products.

WVU student Lauren Tennant, a new selector, witnesses firsthand the convenience it brings to Kroger customers. After organizing and selecting a customer’s groceries, clerks load customers’ cars with groceries, check with customers about substituted products, and then accept coupons and customer payments—which can be cash, check, or card.

If ClickList continues to grow in popularity, perhaps the future won’t include physically entering a grocery store line, but buying goods through digital checkout instead. A new age may be dawning, one in which curbside convenience reigns supreme.

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