Crazy for Kroger’s ClickList

photo by jennifer poff cooper
Customer Jamie Lindsay thanks Blacksburg Kroger employee Malcolm Jackson for bringing her groceries to her via the CLickList online ordering service. Customers wait in their car and an employee comes out and accepts payment for the items and loads them into their vehicle. Transactions generally take only a few minutes to complete.

There are drive-thrus for almost everything else, why not groceries? ClickList is a new online grocery ordering service from Kroger.

Customers order groceries on the computer or with Kroger’s app, choose a pick-up time, and park in specially designated parking spots to pick groceries up at the store, without having to leave their cars.

An associate swipes the Kroger Plus cards to make sure customers receive their discounts, accepts credit or debit card payments, and loads groceries into their cars.

Customers can shop online for over 40,000 items available in-store, including fresh meat and produce. If that sounds overwhelming, personalized product suggestions based on previous Kroger Plus loyalty card purchases makes shopping easier.

The service costs $4.95 per order. The fee is currently being waived for the first three orders so customers can try out this new service at no extra cost.

In the New River Valley, ClickList is currently only available at the South Main Street Kroger in Blacksburg but should be coming to the remodeled Christiansburg store at the end of April.

“I have my life back,” says Kristi Blake, a single mother of two who works full-time at a demanding job. She loves that she can sit on her couch and comparison shop on the computer or the Kroger app – which show all options of an item, such as name brand and store brand – instead of standing in the aisle trying to compare.

If she changes her mind or remembers a forgotten item, she can make adjustments to the order until midnight the day before pick-up. Same-day pick-up is also available with 4 hours’ notice.

Blake says that if the store is out of the product you order, and you have not designated a substitute item, Kroger will substitute another better item (more quantity, a name brand) at no extra cost. This, she says, is all explained to you when the associate brings the groceries to your parking spot.

Other benefits include a running total at the top of the screen for budgeting purposes, use of digital coupons and groceries sorted by category into sturdy bags. Kroger also rewards ClickList customers ClickList with specific coupons and freebies.

Of course convenience is the driving force. “Once you do it a few times, it takes about 10 minutes to shop,” says Blake.

Susan Higgins, who works at Virginia Tech, said, “I’ve used it several times and love it. You do need to do a little planning for it to go well. I get off work at 5:00, so I ask for it to be completed between 4-5 p.m. It’s always ready when I get there to pick it up.”

Higgins likes that Kroger shows a list of sale items.

“That’s handy when you want to buy what is on sale,” she said. “I will continue to use it when I’m in a hurry and don’t want to go to the grocery store myself.”

Cassidy Jones, mother of two young children who works two jobs and has a husband with an inflexible schedule, says that she appreciates ClickList but that her experiences picking up on the weekend were less than stellar.

“The service seemed to fall apart. On both of those [weekend] occasions, I waited an absurdly long time,” she said.

Once, all the parking spots were taken during her allotted timeframe. Another time, the associate was unable to process her paper coupons and get her card to swipe properly without help.

Jones continues, “They were apologetic and polite, but no concessions were offered, not even waiving the [almost] $5 fee that I was paying for that pick-up. I sent a review in through their online survey and was sent back a response to call a number if I wanted to provide any more feedback. I definitely think they are understaffed and undertrained – not prepared to have as much demand as they do.”

However, she says, “I love that the website saves all my recent orders so I can just click, click, click and my weekly staples are ready to go.” And at the pick-up time that she is using now, Thursday afternoons, she is waiting no more than 5-8 minutes.

Charles Thompson, one of the order marshals who checks orders and finds substitutions at the Blacksburg Kroger, said that the store is now averaging 40-80 ClickList customers per day. An average order is $140.

Beginning in October 2016 with a half-dozen dedicated ClickList employees, the store now has about 30 employees who work on ClickList. With the growth, it has been challenging to add and properly train personnel. But the store is catching up with demand.

Thompson said that out of all Kroger subsidiaries only 20-30 locations have ClickList, a service which is two-years-old. The Blacksburg store was the nineteenth store to get ClickList capabilities.

Kroger is testing new add-on services. Thompson said that in the works are pre-authorizing credit cards online instead of at pick-up, selling alcohol and tobacco through ClickList, and even a delivery option.

As Blake said, “I am happy to pay someone else to do my grocery shopping.” Clearly many others agree.

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