September 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

Meijer lets customers order online for in-store pickup

The Midwestern grocery chain has launched a service that lets customers order items online, then pick them up at a designated area in the parking lot of one Meijer store in Grand Rapids, MI.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

 

Midwestern grocery chain Meijer this week began allowing customers in its home town of Grand Rapids, MI, to order groceries online for pickup at one Meijer store. If the service is well received, it could ultimately be rolled out to the rest of the 181 supermarkets and general merchandise stores Meijer operates in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, the company says.

The new Grocery Express service lets customers select grocery and health and beauty products online for pickup at a designated spot in the parking lot of the Grand Rapids store. Customers can set a pickup time from three hours to seven days after they place the order. If they are running late, there’s a number to call to let Meijer know.

When a customer arrives, she pulls into a designated parking spot at the store, and either calls the Grocery Express phone number or pushes a call button outside the designated entry door to let a store employee-the customer’s “personal shopper” to use Meijer’s terminology-know she’s arrived.

"Grocery Express is another example of the ways in which we`re looking to accommodate our busy shoppers," says Rob Fleener, vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Meijer. "People can shop online and three hours later they can pull up to the store and receive their order hand delivered by a personal shopper. It`s a great convenience for customers."

The service costs $6.95 for a single order, or $24.95 for a monthly subscription that covers an unlimited number of orders. Pharmacy, general merchandise and cosmetics products cannot be ordered through this service.

The online ordering form includes a “Special Instructions” section that customers can use to request that items be bagged in a certain way. The Grocery System automatically gives the customer the lowest price, so that, for instance, a customer who orders on Monday for Friday pickup will get the lowest price during that period, Meijer says.

“Meijer is one of the first grocers to offer in-store pickup as an option in the latest round of the grocery vertical’s flirtation with e-commerce,” says analyst Nikki Baird of research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research. She expects more supermarket chains will follow suit, particularly those in Northern states that may already have set aside sheltered areas where shoppers can drive up to pick up their bagged groceries.

Meijer launched its e-commerce site in September 2007.

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