By Kevin Williams
I have a tortured experience when going grocery shopping with my 2-year-old. On one hand, I love spending the time with her. We peruse the aisles, talk about our favorite foods, and usually pay a visit to the toy aisle just to browse. I have some wonderful grocery store memories with Aster. On the other hand, what should take a half hour can sometimes take three times that long as I chase Aster around, she stops at every shelf to look, and attempts to sneak items into our cart.
So my local Kroger chain has unveiled "Clicklist" an online grocery shopping option. You visit their website and using data of your previous purchases from the store loyalty card it sort of already has your grocery list largely filled in. You can add other stuff to your cart. After you've shopped, you select a one-hour window in which you'd like to pick up your order. This all sounded very appealing to me. What would possibly take 90 minutes with Aster, she and I could simply do in 10 minutes by pulling up to Kroger and getting our groceries. It's a win for all of us, because I'd have more time to spend with Aster doing something more meaningful.
So, yesterday, after we shopped online Aster and I headed to visit my grandmother in the nursing home. After all, since we'd be saving so much time from not having to navigate the grocery store, we'd have plenty of time after my workday to hang out with G.G. (Aster calls her G.G...for great-grandma ). So we visited my 91-year-old grandmother, I tried to explain to her about the grocery ordering online and we had a nice visit. Aster loves visiting GG but it is hard to find time sometimes, using ClickList freed up some time.
Then it was on to pick up our groceries. My first mistake? Scheduling it for the 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. slot. That is when everyone is getting off of work and, apparently, wanting to swing by and pick up their groceries. A double line of cars snaked through the Kroger parking lot and onto the main road.
So we wait. And wait. And wait. 50 minutes later we are pulling up to the ClickList lane where a kind, but frazzled, employee puts our groceries in the car and goes over our grocery list. That part could potentially be embarrassing. Because if something is out of stock, they'll either tell you or they'll substitute it with something similar.
"Sorry, Mr. Williams, we were out of that brand of hemorrhoid cream, but we subbed it with something else." Again,I didn't have anything in my order like that but it'd be a little unsettling to have a grocery clerk providing commentary on my purchases. And the substitute items aren't always on the mark. They subbed some of Aster's favorite cereal with "Polar Puffs"......
So, the substitute selections are a drawback. Also, I guess I just like to pick out my own stuff. Especially produce. Each time we have used ClickList, the cantaloupe or watermelon I ordered just wouldn't have been a container I would have picked out myself. Another drawback (or plus, depending on how you look at it) is that your "impulse buys" are greatly reduced. No opportunity to grab that turtle fudge ice cream you didn't need. On the other hand, by not walking through the actual aisles you may miss the peanut butter that you need but forgot to put on your grocery list....
ClickList is free the first few times and then there is a $5 charge to use the service.
My verdict: I think this may well be the future of grocery shopping, but I don't think it's quite ready for prime time yet. Close, but not quite. And the 20 minutes each way I spent driving to Kroger (not every Kroger offers the service), plus the 50 minutes waiting in the car (Aster was very patient), I didn't save a bit of time.......Now, to try those Polar Puffs....