It’s the end of the work day, you’re tired and you don’t feel like standing in line at the store to buy groceries for dinner.
A local grocery chain has added curbside pickup service so residents can do their shopping without ever stepping inside the store.
The Food Lion on Hughes Boulevard next to Big Lots unveiled its new Food Lion To-Go service last Wednesday. The service was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Food Lion’s completion of millions spent on renovating the Hughes location.
“We’ve invested $5 million in this store alone,” said David Hardee, a Food Lion marketing manager.
The renovations took about nine months, and in addition to the To-Go service the store now offers fresh fruit cut daily, two onsite sushi chefs preparing fresh sushi daily and a well-stocked seafood market. The store’s seafood section is one of the company’s most popular services among customers, said Ben Gould, operations manager for Food Lion in Elizabeth City and the Outer Banks.
Curbside pickup is a growing source of commerce for the grocery industry, Hardee said. Not all Food Lion stores offer the service but the idea is to continue expanding it to new stores when possible.
“We’re rolling them out more and more each year,” said Hardee, adding that on Monday 28 more Food Lion locations would unveil their To-Go services.
“It’s been great,” he said, of customer satisfaction with the service. “We’ve seen a lot of response. It’s just a different way to serve our customers.”
To use Food Lion To-Go shoppers must go online to the website shop.foodlion.com and create a free account. Enter the area zip code to find the closest store that provides the service. For now the Hughes Boulevard location is Food Lion’s only Elizabeth City store that features To-Go.
Customers can enter the number of their Food Lion MVP discount cards to their account so the savings will be applied to their orders. While shopping, customers add items to their “cart” and then pay for them online. At the store, there are designated parking spaces for To-Go shoppers. The customer dials a store number posted at the parking space and a store employee brings the order to their vehicle.
“We wheel it out to your car,” Hardee said.
At the Elizabeth City location a team led by Northeastern High School graduate Lisa Whidbee is tasked with fulfilling customers’ online orders.
Whidbee, who started working at Food Lion in 2000, said each member of the team carries a smartphone. When an online order is posted they receive an alert. From there, the To-Go shopper gets to work tracking down the items the customer ordered. The goal is to have all orders completed within about 2 minutes and ready for the customer to pick up, Whidbee said.
The customer receives an alert notifying them when their order is complete and ready for pick up. To ensure items are fresh at the time of pickup, meats, fruits and other perishable items remain refrigerated until the customer arrives, Whidbee said.
The team completed about a week of training in preparing for Wednesday’s launch.
Food Lion To-Go is available daily from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. To take advantage of the service customers must make a minimum purchase of $10 and pay a fee based on the amount of the order. For orders more than $35 customers pay an additional $1.99. Orders less than $35 costs an extra $3.99. That information and more can be found at the Frequently Asked Questions page at shop.foodlion.com.