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Publix Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store Trial Nixed: Grocery Shoppers Are Different

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A trial for the Publix grocery chain to allow buy online/pick up right outside the store—similar to what Hannafords has been trialing—has ended with the service being killed. "While our Curbside associates have created many loyal Curbside customers, the number of consistent customers who chose to use this service was considerably less than required to meet our predetermined expectations," Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten was quoted as saying.

There is something about grocery chains—unlike almost any other retail segment—where trust is minimalized. For some perishable items—think meats, fruits, eggs or vegetables—where a customer wants to personally inspect items, looking for unripe, moldy items or cracked eggshells. The suspicion that employee-chosen items might inadvertently—or even deliberately—be less picky exists. There's also a carryover effect, where even boxed or canned goods can suffer from the psychological association with those more delicate items. Grocery shoppers are not averse to tech improvements—see mobile shopping devices, electronic shelf labels or even some instances of self-checkout—but they really don't want their ability to select to be diminished.