LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets here last week launched a test of curbside pick-up at a store in Atlanta and said it would expand the service to a store in Tampa, Fla., shortly.
The service, which allows customers to shop over the Internet and later pick up the assembled order at the participating Publix store, marks the retailer's first return to Internet shopping since shutting down its PublixDirect subsidiary in 2003.
PublixDirect, officials said, was popular with the shoppers who used it but failed to achieve the scale that would make it profitable. That service delivered orders to customers in South Florida from a dedicated fulfillment center.
The latest incarnation is a simpler approach with appeal for busy shoppers, Publix said. The service will use store employees to assemble orders but deliver them only as far as the parking lot. Shoppers will also pay a $7.99 fee per order, although the retailer is offering the first service free.
Curbside shoppers can select items to shop for at the website and select a pick-up time. According to a schedule posted on the website, most orders would be ready for pickup within four hours.
The website (publix.com/curbside) includes inventory and pricing identical to the store including sale prices, according to Maria Brous, a spokeswoman for Publix. The site, using technologies from MyWebGrocer, provides an estimated total price, since items sold by weight may vary. Customers pay at pick-up.
Curbside shoppers in Atlanta will use the store's drive-up window to complete their orders. At the Tampa store, Publix will reserve special parking spaces for curbside customers.
Brous said the company would look at the results of test stores after a year to determine whether to expand the service.