Before I had my son, I used to LOVE going to the grocery store. I browsed the aisles of The Fresh Market, imagining a table feast fit for Martha Stewart. I even did crazy things like buy flowers and get meat from the butcher shop. Grocery lists were vague and we said things like, “That’s new. Let’s try it!” I even tried my hand at couponing at Harris Teeter when we lived in Charlotte.
After my son was born, everything changed. Even going to the grocery store looked different. I was tired 24/7 and working full-time as a mom made every minute like currency and I wanted to spend it well. When my son was little, I would wear him around the smaller stores and hope he didn’t have a blow out. When the twos and threes hit, grocery shopping was like walking around with a kitchen timer just waiting to go off. I thought I could just pop him into a patrol car shopping cart and get it done, but his hands are everywhere grabbing. And then there’s his instant regret that he didn’t choose the fire truck shopping cart.
Which brings me to Kroger Click List. Now other stores are doing this and I’m sure everyone’s experience is different but I want to share my experience with Kroger’s online shopping and pick-up feature because it may help someone else tackle this beast. In full disclosure, we shop the Kroger Landings at Cedar Bluff.
(Side note: to those moms who choose to brave the grocery store with their screaming baby/toddler, more power to you! You do you. I would never suggest that children should be hidden from view or that misbehaving children should not be a part of our every day experiences. On the contrary, when I walk into Target and I hear the call of the wild somewhere in the toy section (that’s usually where it happens for us), I feel empathetic and glare down those who react any other way. The world belongs to parents and unruly kids too. I’m an introvert and for my sanity, I prefer to engage the world with calculated efforts. My toddler gets to express his unpopular opinions in plenty of other public venues.)
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy – Signing up is easy and the customer portal is simple. You shop the regular inventory online using your recent purchases list, department categories, or a general search bar. I usually start with my recent purchases because it always has my favorite selections for milk, eggs, bread, produce, etc. (Note: I find it best to create a detailed menu for the week and then create the shopping list based on the menu. This prevents return one-off trips to pick up something you forgot). After you’ve finished your online shopping, you review your list. This is when I add quantities or special instructions such as “thinly sliced deli meat” or “no green bananas.” Next, you reserve your pick-up time which are parceled in 1-hour increments so you have some wiggle room which is great for parents! Since you pay at the store, after this step you’re done! Like I said, easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Online Shopping List – It’s hard enough to take my son to a big grocery store like Kroger but when you can’t seem to find the items on your grocery list, the bottom falls out. Using the online shopping feature lets me search and decide in the comfort of my own home (pajamas) without a limp-legged toddler asking about fruit snacks. Also, if I decide I don’t need something, I simply click to remove rather than trekking across the store to return (or shoving it in a nearby shelf to let the store employees re-shelve it if we’re being serious).
Earning Fuel Points – ClickList purchases do count toward your fuel points AND when you complete the customer survey after your purchase, you earn an additional 50 pts. We don’t go to Kroger for gas very often. Like many Knoxville families, we’re tried and true Weigels fans for no particular reason. But it is nice to know that when we do drop in at Kroger, we can also get up to $.30 off every gallon of gas thanks to the regular shopping we do with ClickList.
Electronic Coupons (and the paper kind, for that matter) – I know I mentioned earlier that I tried my hand at couponing and to be honest, I did it for several months. In the end, I gave up, not because it was too much work or because it wasn’t worth the work. I think I simply forgot one Sunday to go through the paper and the spark fizzled. Electronic coupons through Kroger give me the chance to save an extra buck here and there without clipping. Your electronic coupons are applied to your purchase through ClickList. If you have paper coupons, you can let the clerk know when you call for delivery to your car. They send a runner to collect them before your final total is tallied.
Customer Service – I also mentioned earlier that we shopped at Harris Teeter in Charlotte. The customer service at stores like Harris Teeter and Publix is pretty well known. I was concerned that the virtual nature of ClickList would mean a less-than-stellar customer service experience awaited me. Boy, was I wrong! After dozens of interactions with the Kroger employees who work the ClickList orders, I can say that I am genuinely impressed. Perhaps because they aren’t ringing up items from a conveyor belt, these employees seem more conversational and perhaps because they are outdoors, they seem more energetic. We even received a bag of Halloween treats for the family for shopping with ClickList. Anyone who gives me free candy gets an A+.
Substitutions – A big concern I had with shopping online is that I would come home with half the groceries I wanted because they didn’t have what I needed. ClickList gives you the chance to allow substitutions (or conversely, not allow substitutions) for each item in your cart. I’m hesitant to say this because it may have just been my experience (again, great customer service) but the substitutions that have been made on my orders always benefit me rather than the store. For instance, I wanted a 16 oz container of strawberries but they were out so they substituted for a 32 oz package at the same price.
Saving Money ($$$) – So you may be wondering why I listed this last of the good. Simply put, I think this is unique to our situation. In a side-by-side comparison of 4 months using ClickList vs 4 months of traditional grocery shopping, we are averaging a 40% savings on our grocery bill. We occasionally use a coupon and often try to snag Kroger specials but the only way I can account for this massive savings is premeditated shopping and the absence of temptation. In other words, we only buy what we need. Revolutionary, right? This does not mean you are overpaying for your groceries necessarily but that I am gullible when it comes to marketing schemes and I shop hungry.
The Fee – Don’t be alarmed. It’s just $4.95 to use ClickList and the first time (or in our case, the first 3 times) is free. So why is it bad? Because I don’t like fees. When I shop in the store, the price of my groceries covers the overhead of the store just as it does when I buy my groceries at the ClickList curb. If the fee is for the additional work of runners to bring my groceries to the car, then allow me the opportunity to tip them as I see fit rather than charge $4.95. Obviously, the fee is not a deal breaker for me but it irks me.
There’s No App for That – It’s hard to believe that a service this connected to it’s costumer base would neglect the need for a proper app but that’s the cold, hard truth. In the perfect world, there would be a ClickList app that lets you scan grocery items from your own shelves at home to add them to your cart while also searching for relevant coupons for the products you’ve added. But even though we don’t live in the perfect world, even the real world should have an app that allows ClickList to be not just mobile-friendly, but mobile-optimized.
Substitutions – Ok, yes, I listed substitutions in “The Good” but there is a downside. When you are shopping for a particular item and can’t find it in the store, your first response may not be to substitute the brand or the quantity. It may be that the absence of that one item or ingredient changes everything about the meal you planned. There are some things that require alterations not just substitutions and you just can’t get that with a service of this type.
The Unexpected – Because even when you’ve been a ClickList customer for months, something can happen that makes you question everything. We’ve been using ClickList for 7 months, that’s roughly 28 trips to the store, and in that time we’ve had some rotten experiences. There was that time we request 1 of something and they gave us 2 and charged us for both. There was that time when almost 10 items were missing. There was that time when my husband and full lot of customers waited 40 minutes without being given a reason for the delay other than “it’s crazy today!” The good in this bad is that the double charge was remedied the next time we shopped, the missing items were easily picked up elsewhere, and I completed my customer survey about the 40 minute wait and got my 50 fuel points for doing so. Stuff happens. I’m a mom. I roll with it.
Skill Atrophy – This one may make you laugh but as a wife, mother, and general domestic power lifter, I take pride in being able to hunt and gather for my family. There is satisfaction in doing it well and in doing it myself. As I mentioned, we’re several months (almost a year) into using ClickList and it didn’t take long for my grocery shopping skills to atrophy. I ran into Kroger about a month ago for a work event and felt swallowed up by the massive size and scope of the store. I could not remember where anything was and just wandered aimlessly for half an hour looking for the things I needed.
Me – No, seriously, I’m pretty sure ClickList employees have seen me at my worst. Because there is very little interaction involved, I often arrive day-weary, work-worn, and disheveled. If it’s the weekend, I can guarantee you that I haven’t showered or changed. Sometimes the best they see is Mama with her cub in tow, morning shine on my nose and forehead, Moana on the car stereo, and Starbucks in hand (coffee breath for the win!).
So if you are using an online shopping/pick-up service from another local grocery store, share your experience below!