Grocery retailers offer convenience through online shopping

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Editor’s note: this story pairs with another titled “Food delivery is changing Provo’s night scene”

American shoppers made more than half of their purchases online in 2016, according to a study by UPS.

Retailers are changing the way they run their businesses in response to the shift from personal to virtual shopping — including grocery retailers.

The grocery industry is the second largest retail industry in the U.S. and brings in almost $6.5 billion a year, according to the Food Marketing Institute.

Wal-Mart, the largest retail company in the world based on the 2017 Global Powers of Retailing report, has provided consumers more purchasing options.

“As customers are looking for new and convenient ways to shop, we remain committed to testing innovative concepts by combining digital and physical assets that enable customers to shop when, where and how they want,” according to a press release from Wal-Mart about its newly implemented pickup feature.

Wal-Mart introduced its grocery pickup option for online shoppers, called Wal-Mart Grocery, last year. It allows customers to purchase groceries online and pick them up at the store that same day for no additional fee.

Kiffyn Dykstra started using Wal-Mart’s pickup service when she realized she and her husband needed groceries, but she was too tired to go shopping because she is pregnant.

“It is super nice because with pregnancy brain I always forget what we already have or don’t have,” Dykstra said.

She prefers to fill out her online order while looking in her fridge to make sure she orders what she needs.

The Dykstras have also saved money by using the Wal-Mart pickup option.

“There is no extra fee, so you are just paying for the actual food, and I don’t just walk up and down the aisles buying things we don’t need that just look good because I see them,” she said.

Wal-Mart Grocery does not match prices from other stores or locations. The prices are based on where the items are picked up. Online products may differ from the products that are available at the pickup location. Shoppers may choose to allow substitutions for their orders and will be charged for the lower-priced item, according to Wal-Mart’s website.

“They don’t always have every brand or variety as an online option, but I can get 98 percent of what I buy at Wal-Mart,” said shopper Laura Trumbo.

The only issue Trumbo had was she couldn’t just order one jalapeño pepper; she had to order a whole pound. Trumbo said she didn’t worry about it much because the price was less than a dollar.

Amazon.com, the leader in all things cyber-shopping, has moved into the top 10 list of the world’s largest retail chains. The company has been working its way into the grocery industry since 2007, when it launched AmazonFresh. This feature allows Amazon Prime members in select cities to purchase groceries online and have them delivered later that day or the next morning. “AmazonFresh allows customers to combine grocery and other shopping into one seamless experience that easily fits into their routines and improves their busy lives,” according to the AmazonFresh website.

Late last year, Amazon.com introduced Amazon Go, a brick-and-mortar store that allows customers to enter the store, grab what they need and leave with “no checkout required.” Amazon calls this its Just Walk Out Technology.

“Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning,” according to the Amazon Go website.

Customers make purchases online, rather than at a cash register.

This new shopping experience is still in the beta phase and is only available to Amazon employees in Seattle, Washington. The company is planning to open it to the public this year.

Local grocers have also started to include grocery pickup services for their customers.

Macey’s Food and Drug offers Macey’s Anywhere. It first launched in October 2015 at five Utah County Macey’s locations, according to Rachael M. Wabel, Macey’s marketing and communications specialist.

“Over the summer of 2016 it was rolled out to other stores, and the service is now available at all 12 Macey’s locations from Logan to Spanish Fork,” she said in an email.

The company partnered with the Rosie app, which allows customers to shop on any device for their groceries. The app gives shoppers the chance to personalize their orders, especially when it comes to meat and produce. 

Paige Davis, a Macey’s Anywhere shopper, loves the pickup service.

“They have a little section by each product to leave a note,” Davis said, “From my experience, they have always catered to the note and I’ve gotten exactly what I want.”

Macey’s Anywhere customers must submit their orders by 1 p.m. and at least 4 hours ahead of time. The last pickup slot of the day is between 7 and 8 p.m. Shoppers also have to spend a minimum of $30 on groceries and are charged a $1.99 pickup fee.

The Macey’s stores in Sandy and Pleasant Grove started testing home delivery on April 3, according to Wabel.

Although the convenience of at-home delivery is still favored for 65 percent of online purchases, shoppers prefer an alternate delivery or pickup location for 35 percent of purchases, according to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online shopper report.

Most online shoppers prefer having purchases delivered to their door. However, alternative pickup options that are more affordable have become more popular, according to the 2016 Pulse of the Online Shopper report.
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