A part of the traditional idyllic small-town image is the grocery store. Yet, like all things, it is subject to change with the times. In this case, into curbside deliveries, thanks to the pandemic. For a simple answer, Grocery Store Curbside Pickup was meant as a stopgap or makeshift solution to the problem of contact during the pandemic. However, due to its convenience, it has a bright future. It entails employees delivering orders to customers who order online. The orders are placed in specific locations or the customer’s cars.
A New Way to Shop
In grocery store curbside pickups, customers place their order at their convenience either online or by placing calls. The shops keep records of the order and employees gather the items. The order is delivered to drop-off locations or the customer’s vehicle. This makes it a mixture of drive-through and online shopping. It’s faster than online shopping and more convenient than offline shopping.
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Lessons from the History of Grocery Shopping:
The curbside pickup version can be considered the latest version of the standard grocery store. To predict its possible future; it’s best to look over its history.
The history can be summarized as follows:
- The 1850s: This was the era of the stereotypical small-town grocery store. Generally manned by just the owner/grocer who takes the customer’s orders. The grocer then collects the items and has them delivered to the customer’s homes. Even today, such types of stores are common in many countries and still within living memory in many others. They also employed credit mechanisms as paychecks were often infrequent.
- 1859: The first chain stores by the Great Atlantic and Pacific tea company. By 1900, there were 198 stores but groceries were only sold from 1912. Within 3 years, the number of stores extended to 1600.
- 1916: Piggly Wiggly opened the first modern store. It allowed self-service but the credit system was discontinued.
- 1930: What can be recognized as the first supermarket was created and by the ’60s, big box stores appeared. Here, the focus was on lowering prices by selling in larger volumes, which allowed for lower profit margins. While this brought in customers, it also led to mass buying by customers.
- Malls followed which often superseded the grocery store and they were similarly superseded by online shopping from the ’90s.
- At present, the curbside pickup system would have been another novelty had it not been for the pandemic. It led to the exact right circumstances which emphasized curbside pickup’s advantages. Due to this, it has spread like wildfire.
What can be observed here is that whenever a new advantageous form of shopping is presented, it largely overshadows the previous one. However, the previous versions are not wiped out either because they possess some advantages or because keeping them is more practical.
The same is true for the latest model as it possesses several advantages that make it so popular. However, as the lockdown ends, these advantages may not be so prominent but curbside pickup will still be likely to stay. This is because its convenience is undeniable and it has proven to be a proven option.
Pros and Cons
The advantages offered by Curbside Pickup are as follows:
- Best of both worlds: As stated before, curbside delivery is a reasonable middle ground between online and offline shopping. The delay of online and the hassle of offline shopping are minimized. Thus, it offers the best and reduces the worst.
- Minimum cost but maximum revenue: While it may seem counterintuitive, curbside pickup is the best financially for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can choose the best deals and also save costs on delivery. Sellers obtain brand recognition and loyalty, greatly increasing sales and revenue.
The disadvantages offered by Curbside Pickup are as follows:
- Human resource requirements: Curbside delivery is often labor intensive for smaller stores as they often have to manage multiple orders. This can involve managing inventory, packaging and collecting orders, and delivering them to point of sale. As such; for a traditional one or two-employee store, this isn’t easily feasible.
- Not-so-easy logistics: As mentioned in regards to inventory, complexity is another issue. The lack of real-time information can result in issues such as customers ordering out-of-stock items or competing orders.
Companies that Offer Curbside Pickup:
The listing below is for company-owned stores that allow for curbside pickup for groceries:
- Albertsons: The DriveUp and Go service of Albertsons boasts a minimum delivery-ready time of 3 hours with a minimum order price of 30$. Go to the website or use the app to order.
- BJ’s Wholesale Club: A rather limited example as it requires an in-club membership and is available for only certain items.
- Fred Meyer, Kroger, and HEB: They all require a minimum order price of 35$. However, Kroger can waive this by paying service fees that begin from $4.95. They all require booking time-slots within a certain range of time. HEB also requires parking spots in a location that serves as a form of id.
- Hy-Vee: It boasts a next-day delivery for a minimum order of $24.95. It can even be hastened to order within 2 hours by paying an extra $9.95.
- Publix and Aldi: They have both partnered with Instacart. The price for Publix may be higher to account for no pickup fee. Aldi instead delivers for free on the first few orders while charging a small fee afterward. Ordering requires visiting the site or using the Instacart app.
- Whole Foods: This is available only for certain stores for Amazon Prime members.
It may have started as a curiosity and been spread as a makeshift solution for a trying time but it is here to stay. Curbside shopping is not some trend that relies on just novelty, but a proven method of trade with distinct advantages. Until an environment exists where it is impractical or until something better comes along, it will stay and grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are memberships for stores worth it?
It is subjective. If the lesser cost was the main attraction behind curbside delivery, then it would be better for shops that offer it without membership costs. If such types of stores are unavailable or the convenience and variety trumps cost, then membership might be worth it.
- What exactly is Instacart?
Instacart is a grocery delivery and pick-up service that has collaborated with some stores for grocery delivery.
- What locations generally serve as Point of Sale (POS) for grocery store curbside delivery?
They generally rely on allocated parking spaces, though some may hire lockers or warehouses.