Online Grocery services breaking through in Lubbock

Online Grocery services breaking through in Lubbock

LUBBOCK, Texas -

According to a Nielsen survey, the most successful retailers will be at the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds.

However, a study by TABS Analytics reports customers aren't embracing the online grocery shopping platform at a fast enough rate, with only 4.5 percent of Americans regularly shopping for groceries online.

For a busy mom like Chelsey Sanders, the option to add items to a virtual cart and pick them up on her way out of town at her local superstore was life-changing.

"We have three kids, so whenever we'd have to go grocery shopping, we couldn't fit them all in one basket and the food. So we would take one basket for kids, and one basket for food," Sanders said.

This was up until she discovered grocery pickup services, where you order online and pickup at the store barely lifting a finger.

"I set my pickup for a certain time and then I can go to Walmart, park, call the number, they put it in my car, I don't even have to get out of the car. It takes like 15 minutes," Sanders said.

While Walmart's pickup service has been implemented for a couple years, United recently announced the start of a pickup service and delivery as a way to cater to their unique customer base. The service started in Amarillo, and expanded to two locations in Lubbock at the United Supermarket at 130th and Indiana and the Market Street at 50th and Indiana.

"Stay at home mothers that have multiple kids, how hard is it for that mother to drag three kids into the store, they're constantly running around or putting stuff in the basket. You kind of eliminate that. You get more time in your day," Chris Farr, e-Commerce Manager for United said.

Texas Tech professor of Marketing Debbie Laverie says online grocery shopping was tried about ten years ago, when consumers may not have known how to embrace it.

"The difference now than when we saw this attempt about ten years ago, is it's grocery stores that already have customers. So that cuts down on the acquisition cost. When this was first tried, it was new stores trying to get new customers, and those costs were just too high."

Each retailer has had to ensure the functionality of their website and the effectiveness of their initial investment into providing this service.

"Obviously, there's start up costs, especially setting up the online store. But in the long run, what I've seen so far, is that people buy more online so I think it will actually help their profitability in the long run," Laverie said.

United is thinking long term, looking to increase market share and their footprint in Lubbock.

"We're definitely marketing in store, we're doing radio marketing. A lot of it really is just word of mouth. A lot of our guests that are trying the service are spreading the word to their friends and it's just exponentially growing from there of their friends to their friends."

Sanders agreed and said "I think probably five of my friends tried it after I posted my experience with it."

A study by TABS Analytics shows most consumers haven't embraced the experience with only a 3.9 to 4.5 percent increase of Americans using online grocery from 2015 - 2016.

"That's not going to get it done to make this any type of meaningful business though. I mean you need to see numbers like 15, 20, 30 percent and we're eking out at tenths of a percent increase."

That's welcome news for stores who have yet to hop on the online retailer bandwagon.

"Everybody's following the pack, it's kind of that field of dreams herd mentality, if you build it they will come, and they're not coming. Nobody's really focusing on the consumer and trying to understand why they really have not embraced e-commerce grocery."

The leading online retail giant, Amazon expanding their reach with an innovative, brick and mortar store...that scans your items and charges your amazon account as you leave the store.

"A lot of these technologies have been kicked around for a long, long, time and amazon has at least figured out a way to commercializing say RFID that basically helps you track the item when you go into the store, and when you go out of the store, so that stuff is very promising."

With 78 percent of U.S. consumers choosing to shop in-store, clicks likely won't be replacing bricks anytime soon.

"We'll still have brick and mortar stores obviously for a long time, but I think for those more durable kinds of things that you buy all the time, this will continue to grow."

"The day and age that we live in, in some of these cities, it's go-go-go and having that time to spend with your family or time to spend doing your hobbies, I think it's definitely just a way of the future."

For busy mothers like sanders, the future is now.

"My mother-in-law has a one-year-old and I was like 'you need to try this yesterday' and she was like 'but I like picking it up' and I'm like 'no, just try it. You won't regret it.'"

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