- Hy-Vee has added a two-hour "express" pickup option for a fee for shoppers using its Aisles Online grocery service, according to a company press release.
Express pickup will cost $9.95 per order, and the company said a limited number of two-hour slots pickup slots will be available each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Customers will know if an express time slot is available when they see the “Get it Faster” option online.
- All stores that have Aisles Onlines will offer express pickup. Customers will receive notifications by text and email the same way they do for standard pickup orders.
Prior to the pandemic, grocers were trying to reduce or eliminate pickup fees to match giants like Walmart and Amazon, but soaring e-commerce demand has removed some of that pressure. With so many shoppers facing issues with out-of-stocks, wait lists and delayed availability for pickup and delivery, a small charge for quicker fulfillment may meet less resistance.
Walmart introduced a two-hour fee-based express option recently as well, though the service is specific to delivery. It costs $10 on top of Walmart’s standard $9.95 delivery charge, and allows shoppers to select from 160,000 products across food, consumables and general merchandise, including groceries. It is intended to rival Amazon’s ultrafast grocery delivery for Prime customers. H-E-B has also launched two-hour express delivery for grocery essentials through its subsidiary, Favor.
While retailers of all sizes are looking to speed up e-commerce fulfillment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hy-Vee is one of a few grocers leading the way when it comes to faster pickup. Brookshire Grocery Company's website says customers can pick up orders in as little as two hours, and Stop & Shop announced same-day grocery pickup last summer for a fee of $2.95.
Many grocers are still working to expand standard curbside pickup. Giant Eagle, for example, just converted one of its locations to a dark store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, joining two other similarly converted locations in Ohio. Whole Foods, Stop & Shop and Kroger have also recently converted stores to e-commerce service only.
In addition to the new express option, Hy-Vee said it is working to increase available time slots for all Aisles Online orders and has expanded its online product assortment to include items from departments including bakery, beauty and garden.