Twenty-first century technology waits for no one, not even Durango’s grocery market.
The Pickup program in place at north City Market since August 2017 is perhaps the most obvious evolution of grocery shopping in Durango.
“We had feedback from customers who had seen Pickup in use in other markets, and they asked us if we could add this,” said Jeff Thompson, store manager of north City Market in Durango. “We see it as how our customers increasingly want to interact with us. It gives customers another option.”
When space leased by a bank was not renewed, Thompson said it freed enough room in north City Market to start Pickup, which previously was called ClickList.
Pickup, an app based on a customer’s City Market Value Card, allows shoppers to create a grocery list that employees will assemble ahead of time. Customers then pick up their groceries at an assigned time window in one of three parking spaces reserved for Pickup shoppers. Using Pickup will add a $5 charge to a grocery haul, but the first three uses of the service are free.
The app credits any specials City Market has in place. Shoppers can also add notes to orders, such as “I want green bananas” or “I need avocados I can eat tonight.”
“It’s really a pretty slick little program,” Thompson said.
City Market will exchange produce or eliminate it from an order if a customer doesn’t like items picked by a store employee, Thompson said.
Ryne Hayes, store director for Durango’s Albertsons, said his store sees personal shoppers buying groceries for clients through Instacart, a third-party app that uses contract shoppers to collect and deliver groceries for app users.
“I think this will be the future,” Hayes said. “Grocery stores need to step up and offer convenience and options for their customers in the age of Amazon.”
In bigger markets across the country, grocery shopping is rapidly adapting to the digital age. Whole Foods, a division of Amazon, offers free two-hour deliver to customers with Amazon Prime accounts.
Adam Williamson, a spokesman for City Market/King Soopers, said the City Market/King Soopers division of Kroger Co. has 152 stores, and 90 have put in place the Pickup program. North City Market is the first City Market in Southwest Colorado with Pickup.
Each store that adds the service needs extra space to assemble the grocery lists and enough refrigeration and freezer space to hold items before adding them to shoppers’ hauls when they arrive in the parking lot. A lack of space, including refrigeration and freezer space, is why not all City Markets or King Soopers, including south City Market in Durango, have added Pickup, Williamson said.
Thompson said north City Market sees anywhere from 30 to 80 Pickup orders a day.
“I pretty much knew we had a good interest for this, but I thought it would be mainly people who would pick up groceries after work, but I’m hearing from people who say, ‘My mom loves it because she doesn’t have to get out of the car. She doesn’t want to slip on the ice,’” Thompson said.
The program was particularly busy Wednesday as Durangoans prepared for an incoming snowstorm. North City Market had 43 Pickup orders submitted by 8 a.m.
People can submit their grocery lists to Pickup as much as three days in advance or as few as four hours before picking up their haul, Thompson said.
The Pickup program has helped parking at north City Market, Thompson said.
“People will be parked for 10 minutes instead of 40 minutes or an hour,” he said.
Thompson, who said he also sees Instacart shoppers, said north City Market has not yet added home delivery, but other Kroger stores are testing it, and it too may be coming to Durango.
“This doesn’t replace store visits. Pickup customers still come into the store to shop. But this is another option and service we can offer. I see it as part of the future. It’s the way people will be shopping,” Thompson said.