April 27, 2011, 12:30 PM

A matter of delivery for grocer and general merchandiser Meijer

The retail chain enables shoppers to place orders online and pick up items inside stores.

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Grocery and general merchandise retailer Meijer Inc.  today said it would enable consumers to place orders on its e-commerce site and have the products shipped for free to the bricks-and-mortar store nearest that shopper.

With the launch of its Order-to-Store program, Meijer becomes the latest grocer and retail chain to expand delivery options for online shoppers. Earlier this week, for instance, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. began testing home delivery of online grocery orders. Meijer is No. 362 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Wal-Mart is No. 6.  

Many other retail chains offer in-store pickup of online orders. Best Buy, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, says 40% of orders at BestBuy.com are picked up in its stores.

The Meijer program applies to thousands of items found on ordertostore.meijer.com. Besides groceries, product categories include furniture and home, sporting goods, kitchen appliances, garden and outdoor, toys, and health and beauty. Shoppers can use online coupons for their orders.

A shopper designates a Meijer store for pickup, and receives an e-mail notification when the order is ready. The e-mail tells the shopper exactly where inside the store to pick up the order; Meijer says most orders will be picked up from the electronics or photo departments. Meijer says delivery can take up to seven days, though most orders will be delivered to local stores within three days. The shopper can return an item at the local Meijer store.

The retailer chain operates 195 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

"This is another example of how Meijer is making the online shopping experience as convenient and affordable as possible for our customers," says Rick Keyes, executive vice president of supply chain operations and e-commerce for the retailer.  "Not only are we eliminating shipping costs, we're also enabling shoppers to return the items to their local stores."

Wal-Mart, which offers a free Site to Store option for online orders, this week began testing its Walmart To Go grocery home delivery service through stores in San Jose, CA.  The retailer charges a delivery fee of at least $5. Wal-Mart previously limited home delivery to packaged goods. Earlier this month, Harris Teeter, a chain of 202 grocery stores in the Eastern United States, said it was expanding its order online, pick up in store program.

Lynn Lanphier, Best Buy's director of digital analytics, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled "Keeping control of web analytics data."

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