Grocer’s online shopping returns

For $10 a trip, you will never have to go inside a grocery store again.

For $10 a trip, you will never have to go inside a grocery store again.

Citing a growing demand from parents with young children and busy professionals, Price Chopper has brought back online shopping. Workers trained to select unbruised produce, and the best meat, seafood and baked goods will fill each order and deliver it to the customer’s car at a pre-selected time. For another $5.99, they will bring it to the customer’s house.

The grocery chain canceled the program in 2001, after being unable to keep the online database of groceries updated with the latest sales. Price Chopper also tried to pull stock from one warehouse for the entire region.

Now, with better online sales experience — Price Chopper runs a strong florist business online, among other specialties — the chain is trying again.

“What we’re finding is, we have 128 warehouses,” said Jon Strom, Price Chopper’s vice president of new business development.

He’s hoping to expand the program to most of the chain’s stores, picking key stores in each part of the region.

It’s starting in Niskayuna, where the chain is being challenged by Price Rite.

“When a competitor comes to town, you get better,” Strom said.

The service began Tuesday without much fanfare. But since the option appeared on the company’s website, the store has filled dozens of orders, Strom said.

The online program applies Price Chopper’s AdvantEdge Card discounts and its online coupons, if the owner has selected them. Other coupons can be turned in when the groceries are delivered, but the store will apply the savings to the customer’s next order.

The program could be of great assistance to the disabled and elderly who cannot easily get to a grocery store. But Strom expects the biggest users to be new parents.

“They’re the prime demographic. If you’ve ever shopped with a child and heard the screaming and yelling, and they want things Mom and Dad really don’t want, and they grab things with really strong hands,” he said.

Working couples will be the second-biggest group, he predicted. “It’s where time equals money in a true sense,” he said.

There is a four-hour wait to pick up any order, but customers can send in orders days in advance if they prefer.

Almost every grocery item will be available — even live lobster. But hot, cooked food — including steamed lobsters — won’t be on the website. Seasonal items, including special Halloween-only candy, will also not be for sale through the service.

But for everything else, customers can specify exactly what they want, down to the amount of ripeness in their produce.

“You might write, ‘green bananas this week, but ripe avocado because you’re making a salsa as soon as it gets home,’ ” Strom said.

Every customer will get $5 off the first time they try the service, as well as every fifth time.

“We really like loyal customers,” Strom said.

For now, customers can get groceries delivered to their home only if they live in the following Zip codes: 12303, 12304, 12305, 12307, 12308 and 12309.

Any customer can pick up groceries at the store at 442 Balltown Road in Mohawk Commons.

Categories: Business

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