SAN DIEGO -- Safeway's online shopping service is scheduled to debut here today after what the company described as positive results in some of its northern West Coast markets.
Safeway's Vons subsidiary, Arcadia, Calif., is launching the service using GroceryWorks, which is based, along with Safeway, in Pleasanton, Calif. GroceryWorks is 50% owned by Safeway and 35% owned by British retailer Tesco.
"We've been pleased with the results we've seen since we launched in our other markets earlier this year," said Mark Marymee, spokesman, GroceryWorks. "We had a strong response right out of the box, and it's kept up since then."
He declined to reveal sales volumes or data about visitor traffic at the Safeway.com site, which began offering home delivery in Portland, Ore., in January and San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., in March. He did say that average orders for meat and produce are larger online than they are in the store, a fact he attributed to the acceptance of the "notes" feature that allows customers to describe the quality of the perishables they are seeking -- green bananas, soft tomatoes, etc.
"It gives the customer a little more control over how their fruits, vegetables and meats are picked," he said.
The Vons.com service will initially serve about 2.3 million people in 24 municipalities in the greater San Diego market, although plans call for it to expand to Orange County, west Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and the area known as the "Inland Empire," which includes San Bernardino County, Riverside County and the eastern tip of Los Angeles County.
Like GroceryWorks' other Safeway operations, Vons.com will utilize centralized "pick" stores where dedicated Vons.com shoppers will use high-tech shopping carts to select up to six orders at a time. Marymee said there were several dozen such "pick" stores in Southern California and about 40 systemwide. Each such store serves customers in a radius of about 20 miles.
Drivers, who are managed by GroceryWorks, use temperature-controlled vans to deliver orders between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily, at a charge of $9.95 per order.