Publix Supermarkets (“where shopping is a pleasure,”) is testing a new way to please their customers. Beginning with two test markets, in Tampa, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, Publix is trying out a new drive-through service called Publix Curbside. Many companies have tested various versions of online shopping and grocery delivery, but so far this has not caught on with the public. What makes Publix think their Publix Curbside service will be different?
Publix Supermarkets has grown from its beginnings in 1930 to one of the largest regional grocery chains in the United States. It is a very popular chain in the Southeast, serving five southern states. Publix is always trying new things and having curbside or drive through service is one of the most ambitious things yet.
The plan is to have two test stores, one coming soon to Shoppes of Citrus Park in Tampa, Florida with a designated curbside spot and a special call button, and another, already up and running, in Toco Hills Shopping Center, Atlanta, Georgia with a drive through window. Customers can open an account online and compile a list from the selections on the site. All current sales prices will apply, but the price given at check out online will be a sub-total until weights on pertinent items are ascertained. After making their list, the customer will choose a pickup time, anywhere from four hours to several days later.
The customer can then go about their business, while a store employee fills a cart for them from their list. At their chosen time, the customer can come through the drive through window, or park in a designated lot and the employee will deliver the groceries to their vehicle, load them up and accept payment via cash, check or credit card. Debit cards cannot yet be used unless the customer is willing to go inside for the transaction. Also, if you wish to purchase alcohol, you must go inside and show i.d. to prove you are over 21.
Publix is not planning at this time to have a minimum order, but they do charge a flat fee of $7.99, regardless of the size of the order. So if you only need a gallon of milk, for instance, this service would probably not be worth it. But for a large grocery order, I can see where a lot of people might think it well worth the price to have someone else do the shopping. Parents with several small children, older folks who struggle to do their shopping and the very busy may find this a valuable service. And for those who can’t order online, they can fax their order, or just call the store. As always, Publix does not allow their employees to accept tips.
Browsing the Publix Curbside website, I found it very easy to navigate. It is much like shopping at Amazon or any other online store. The website also has a thorough Help Center with directions for setting up an account, shopping, checking out and picking up your order.You set up an account, choose a pickup time and begin filling your online shopping cart. The categories are laid out clearly and you can also customize a list to use regularly, although you can make changes each time as well. If you have special requests or instructions, you are given a chance to add comments as you place items in your shopping cart, on your personalized grocery list and during online checkout. The system seems pretty straightforward.
Publix Curbside shopping is a bold new experiment, being tried at Toco Hills Shopping Center, 2969 N Druid Hills Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329-3909 (phone number: (404) 638-6022). Now is a very good time to try it out, because the first order is free! It will be interesting to see whether drive through or curbside shopping will catch on with an increasingly internet-savvy public.
Shoppes of Citrus Park
7835 Gunn Hwy
Tampa, FL 33626-1611
Main: (813) 926-6664