I'm originally from the coastal mid-section of New Jersey, and when we had to brave those daunting Nor'easter storms and trudge through the parking lots of grocery stores with our shopping carts, moving to Florida and the customer service experience of Publix made quite an impression on me. I never could imagine someone actually taking my shopping cart out in the parking lot to my car - rain or shine, and tipping was never required.
Now the Lakeland-based company is experimenting with a new service where customers place their food orders online, and the customer can select their desired pick-up location with a guaranteed 30 minute window. The customer actually gets a personal shopper, and they can call in an order using a computer, fax or telephone. An estimated total is given after the order is taken, but the exact totals may vary depending upon the weight of produce, meat, and deli items. Sales prices for that day are in effect for the customer. A $7.99 service fee is charged, no matter if a customer is picking up a gallon of Haagen-Dazs or a week full of ingredients and grocery supplies.
The service officially began on Monday at the Atlanta site, and a dedicated drive-through has been provided. No longer do we have to imagine food shopping and not having to get out of our cars! Another site in Tampa is expected to open by the end of the year, and at that time, Publix will be able to review the success of the program.
"Publix Curbside is a natural extension of our service commitment, especially for time-starved families," states Marla Brous, Publix director of media and community relations.
Searching back, I did notice that Publix Direct, a similar service began in 2001 but closed in 2003, and listed insignificant volume as the reason it failed. This time, however Publix is including the instant gratification of curbside pickup, and allows for orders to be selected by in-store personal shoppers. Publix Greenwise, which is an organic version of Publix has a to-go service for prepared foods and meals right here in Palm Beach Gardens where I live, but we have to get out of our cars for pick-up.
Publix has been recognized as tops in the grocery business, and has received continued awards for excellent customer service. Let's see how this next step in decadent service does to the world of grocery shoppers.