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Online groceries coming to HRM

Carmel Pendergast, personal shopper at the Joseph Howe Superstore in Halifax, fills a couple of orders from online Monday. The grocery giant now offers personal online shopping. 
Carmel Pendergast, personal shopper at the Joseph Howe Superstore in Halifax, fills a couple of orders from online Monday. The grocery giant now offers personal online shopping. ERIC WYNNE • THE CHRONICLE HERALD

alifax-area grocery shoppers will be the first in Atlantic Canada to have the opportunity to use Loblaw Cos. Ltd.’s Click & Collect online grocery service, starting Tuesday.

Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaw Atlantic, says the Click & Collect service is the first of its kind in the Atlantic region. It lets customers shop for all of their groceries online, then schedule a convenient time to pick up their order at their local Atlantic Superstore outlet.

Over the last little while, Click & Collect has been tested by Loblaw staff, friends and families in Halifax and Boudreau said it has gone really well, but the organization is still excited about the official opening to the public.

Seven Atlantic Superstores in Metro will be the first in this region to offer Click & Collect: 3601 Joseph Howe Dr., 210 Chain Lake Dr. and 1075 Barrington St., in Halifax; 9 Braemar Dr. and 650 Portland St. in Dartmouth; 745 Sackville Dr., in Lower Sackville; and 1650 Bedford Highway in Bedford. After the Halifax stores, Boudreau says an additional six stores in New Brunswick will get the service on Dec. 12.

There are a total of 55 Atlantic Superstores, 29 in Nova Scotia, and in Newfoundland and Labrador there are 11 Dominion stores, which will eventually offer the service. Starting in the more urban centres, the roll-out of Click & Collect is slated to be completed in this region by the end of next year.

Adam Jardine, director of digital marketing for Loblaw, says customers can relate to Click & Collect because it allows them to shop at their local store online and then pick up their grocery order at a time most convenient for them.

The pick-up window is between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., when the online customer comes to the store for the groceries. There are

reserved parking spots at the front of the building and a Click & Collect team member can bring the groceries out to the car, where the customer can then pay with the credit card they have on file.

“I don’t think it comes as a surprise that this is being offered. People are time starved as it is and Click & Collect is an attempt to make it more convenient for them. The customer can place an order to be collected as far in advance as two weeks, or as little as two hours,” Jardine said.

“When we looked at our core customer, her day or his day is constantly changing and what they may have planned for the day may have completely changed by the afternoon, so that two-hour flexibility for the customer really offered them the most convenience, and that’s what we’re investing right now,” he said in a phone interview.

While delivery sounds like it might be a better idea initially, home delivery means people are waiting at home for their order, while they could be doing something else. He said having the groceries ready to pick up is actually more convenient for most customers.

The customer can go to atlanticsuperstore. ca, which opens up to 20,000 grocery items, including local produce, said Jardine. If the customer chooses to link their PC Plus rewards card to their online account, it will allow for the creation of a basket of products the customer buys regularly. The idea behind that, he said, is to create a grocery order as quickly as possible, partially based on past shopping habits.

The online Click & Collect shopper needs to have access to the internet to make an order but the shopping list can be edited up to midnight the day before picking up the order.

Each order is filled by a dedicated personal shopper at Superstore who will select the freshest items possible and make sure everything in the customer’s order is exactly how they want it, keeping the customer’s personal preferences in mind, Boudreau said.

“If we don’t get freshness right, then we don’t have a service. I think it’s what it comes down to,” Jardine said.

“The backbone of what we do well in-store is freshness of produce, and what we do is train our pickers to be the hands, the eyes, the ears of the customer. So they are going in and looking for only the best and we have very high standards that we look for when we’re picking on behalf of that customer.

“We have to get freshness in order to gain that customer’s trust,” he said, adding there is a 72-hour guarantee on produce and meat, so if the customer isn’t satisfied with the quality of the food selected for them, they can give the store a call and Loblaw will make it right for them.

At the seven stores, a whole team has been trained. Some are existing employees who are being trained for this but some additional people have also been hired to join the Click & Collect team, said Boudreau.

The number of new employees varies depending upon the store but considering there are 55 stores across the region, and up to 10 staff members are part of the Click & Collect team, there are a considerable number of jobs being created with the new service, he said.


-Roger Taylor

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