January 6, 2012, 11:29 AM

Publix will exit e-commerce for a second time

The supermarket chain will stop accepting online orders Jan. 27.

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Grocery retailer Publix will stop accepting online orders for curbside pickup Jan. 27. The company says not enough customers consistently used the service and it did not meet financial expectations.

This is the second time Publix has exited e-commerce. Publix shuttered its previous online grocery business, PublixDirect, in 2003 after two years in operation. That service provided online ordering and delivery to customers’ homes.

The grocer’s current iteration, Publix Curbside, launched in 2010 and did not offer delivery. It was available at two stores in Atlanta and one in Tampa, FL. The service enabled customers who ordered groceries online to have their orders delivered to their cars at the participating stores four hours later. Publix charged a $7.99 fee for online orders. 

“While our Curbside associates have created many loyal Curbside customers, the number of consistent customers who chose to use this service was considerably less than required to meet our predetermined expectations. The majority of our customers love their Publix and still prefer to have the interaction with our associates,” Publix says in a statement on its web site.

Other retail grocers continue to test consumers’ interest in ordering groceries online for store pickup. Harris Teeter, a chain of 202 grocery stores in the eastern United States, said last year that it plans to expand to 88 from 68 the number of stores that provide store pickup of online orders. It gives consumers the option of paying a per-order fee of $4.95 or a flat monthly fee of $16.95 for unlimited orders. Midwestern grocery and general merchandise retailer Meijer also offers curbside pickup at four stores of groceries ordered online. It gives consumers the option of paying a per-order fee of $6.95 or a flat fee of $24.95 for 30 days of unlimited orders. Meijer Inc. is No. 319 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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