Sherry Snowden works as a purchasing manager, so when she shops outside work, she likes to see things in person.
But when her children were away at college, she ordered their groceries for them online and had them delivered.
“I liked having the options,” she said Thursday after a trip to Giant on New Design Road in Frederick with her daughter.
They are excited for the Giant chain to get Scan It, a program that provides customers with a scanner to ring up items as they put them in the cart, making checkout faster.
Snowden said the grocery store where she used to live in Hagerstown had the program and she loved it.
Giant installed the self-scanners in all of its Frederick County stores two weeks ago, said Jamie Miller, a spokesman for Giant.
Giant is one of several chains adding services to make shopping more convenient for customers. The new buzzword in grocery retail has become “omni-channel,” the means by which grocery stores offer multiple ways for shoppers to buy products.
Consumers make an average of one and a half trips to the grocery store per week, according to 2015 data from the Food Marketing Institute. Weekly household expenses averaged $107.34 in 2016.
Online grocery market share of overall grocery sales in the United States is around 2 percent, according to Morgan Stanley Research, and more than a third of online shoppers expect to buy their groceries online in 2016.
A pilot program for CVS Curbside Pickup was launched this year at about 300 stores in San Francisco, Atlanta and Charlotte.
CVS began the national expansion of the CVS Express program, which includes 40 markets and more than 4,000 CVS store locations, at the end of September. The free one-hour pickup for nonprescription items such as over-the-counter medicines, household essentials, health foods and snacks, is available at Frederick locations.
“Today’s consumers want instant gratification, and by integrating CVS Curbside Pickup within the CVS Pharmacy app, we can offer a new kind of convenience that our competitors can’t,” according to a CVS Pharmacy statement.
Giant also has offered delivery through a service called Peapod for some time. It has been delving into other types of convenient shopping, such as a curbside service, although the pickup program is not offered in Frederick County, Miller said.
“Most of our stores now offer self checkouts, which is convenient for customers who only have a few items,” he said. “It’s really that multi-channel experience that we’re offering customers.”
Lynn Briscoe, a Frederick County resident, said she tried Peapod once or twice, but didn’t find the delivery windows convenient. She said she now uses HelloFresh, a weekly fresh-food subscription service that delivers food to cook meals for the week with provided recipes.
“It helps me not go to the grocery store,” she said. “It’s nice to have convenience that suits all our busy lifestyles.”
Snowden said she used Peapod to order her children’s groceries online when they were away at school and have them delivered to them. She said the only thing she wouldn’t purchase online is meat.
Although she prefers to shop in a store, her daughter Alyssa Snowden said she prefers online.
While retailers are trying to increase online sales, grocers also are focusing on produce departments, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Shoppers who don’t buy groceries online most often name the desire to pick their own produce as the reason, according to the article, which cited an online survey from Morgan Stanley earlier this year. This makes produce a store’s best defense against growing competition from online services, such as Amazon.
To overcome this hurdle, Amazon is expanding its grocery business with convenience stores that would offer curbside pickup for online orders, according to a second Wall Street Journal article. The stores, according to the article, would sell produce, milk, meats and other perishable items. Customers could order other items with a longer shelf life for same-day delivery on their smartphones or touch screens in the store.
Giant Eagle also offers curbside pickup at some of its locations based on operational capacity and customer interest, Giant Eagle spokesman Dick Roberts wrote in an email. There are no plans to expand it into the Frederick County area.
Safeway offers grocery delivery to homes and businesses in the greater D.C. and Baltimore metro areas, including most of Maryland and northern Virginia.
While many people still enjoy shopping in the store, others like the idea of ordering online, having someone else do the shopping for them, and having their groceries delivered, Beth Goldberg, a public affairs senior manager for Safeway, wrote in an email.
She said the service is convenient for mothers with small children so that they don’t have to take their children to the store, as well as for apartment residents, older people and those with physical limitations.
“We do the work for all these customer segments, saving them both time and effort,” she wrote.