Biz Beat

A click and a beep and ... your groceries arrive

An order is packed and ready go to at the Walmart store in Patterson on Thursday.
An order is packed and ready go to at the Walmart store in Patterson on Thursday.

Ordering groceries online for pickup at the store isn’t brand-new. Raley’s in northeast Modesto offered the service nine years ago, which I well remember because I was pregnant and on bed rest at the time and it sure came in handy.

However, the service has been expanding and is really gaining steam in recent years. Most recently, the Walmart Supercenter in Patterson started offering the service. Since starting about five weeks ago, it’s steadily grown in popularity.

“We have new customers every single day,” said store manager Pardeep Sani. “It’s a convenience factor.”

Wal-Mart sent me a gift card to check out the new service. And convenient. I placed my order one afternoon, selected my pickup time and arrived the following morning. When I got there, I dialed a number listed on the sign in the parking lot and Rosalba Barragan, my “personal shopper,” came out with my order. She pointed out that one item – a box of cereal – wasn’t available, so they gave me a larger size of the same cereal for the same price.

Barragan and assistant manager Brian Gomes showed me where the online orders are stored and how it works. And, it turns out, it could have been even easier. There’s an app shoppers can check into when they leave the house.

“It starts beeping as you get within a mile and then when you’re here, it beeps continuously until we take out the order,” Gomes said.

So far, the most popular items ordered have been produce, with bananas ranking No. 1. The most popular pickup time is between 8 and 9 a.m. and then again between 4 and 8 p.m.

Wal-Mart is starting to roll out the service to other markets; the Modesto region is on the list, though it’s not clear when that will happen.

Save Mart doesn’t have an e-commerce option yet, but spokeswoman Nannette Miranda said store officials are looking into it and planning some pilot programs next year.

Raley’s has expanded its E-Cart in the nine years since I used it. You can now order online and pick up at the stores in Oakdale and on Geer Road in Turlock, according to spokeswoman Chelsea Minor.

As for the groceries I picked up this week, they are headed to the United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock. Which gives me an opportunity to promote our upcoming A Book of Dreams fundraiser, as USF is a participant. Look for the special section in The Bee next Sunday.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Staying on Stanislaus County’s West Side for a bit, there’s a new place to eat in Westley.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit opened its newest location there Thursday, according to a news release. If you are among the first 100 customers for the next three Thursdays, you can try the taco of the month – the Frito’s Pie Taco. The restaurant also will do a contest where three people can win free barbecue for a year.

Harman Dhesi, who owns Joe’s Travel Plaza, also owns the new Dickey’s.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to serve Texas-style barbecue to people from all over the country who frequent this location,” he said in the release.

Find Dickey’s on Howard Road in Westley. The phone number is 209-892-1313.