Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom ambassador. As part of my affiliation with this group I have been compensated to test the Loblaws Click & Collect service. As always my words and opinions are my own.
The other night I went grocery shopping at 11pm at night. Of course, the grocery store was closed at that hour, but that didn’t stop me. The house was quiet, the kids were in bed and hubby wasn’t home yet from his late shift at work. So I slipped away and did my grocery shopping.
I know what you’re thinking, something sounds off here. Relax, I didn’t leave my two sleeping kids at home alone and go break into a closed up shop. Instead, I put on my PJs, slipped into the comfy rocking chair in my bedroom and used my tablet to access the Zehrs Click & Collect website.
I was looking forward to checking out this service, I mean I figure it had to be better than my current grocery shopping routine, which mainly involves putting it off until we are absolutely out of everything, but I was also a little worried about selection. Would they have everything I wanted available online?
The first thing I did was type “Tide” into the search box. I was a bit dumbfounded to find 55 search results. The ones that were on sale were clearly noted. Everything was broken down into price per 100ml or price per pod, so you could comparison shop, just like in the store. Even better, my Tide, the Free and Gentle Tide Pods was listed, and in the biggest, cheapest, most bang for your buck, sized container too. Delighted I added it to my cart and continued poking around the website.
Next, I decided to browse the bakery section, and I was actually a bit overwhelmed by the selection; freshly baked bread, packaged bread, bread crumbs and stuffing, dessert and pastries, gluten free, wraps, pita and flat bread… and the list went on and on. Where even to begin? Remembering how much we like the Morning Glory muffins made at the Zehrs in-house bakery I clicked on “Breakfast, Muffins & Scones”. Twenty-some varieties to choose from. Wow. And there’s the Morning Glory ones, yay. Click, into the cart.
I was feeling a little overwhelmed with randomly browsing, so I decided to hit the sales section. Holy cow. Over 2100 items on sale. Okay, still overwhelmed. Geesh. I scrolled through page after page of deals, adding necessities and favourites to our cart. Every time another item popped into my head I would hit the search bar, and every single time they had the item I wanted. Those new Slammers packs my kids are addicted to? Check. Replacement blades for my favourite Venus razor? Check. Chicken OXO, the low sodium version? Check. The lavender scented Dawn dish detergent I prefer? Check.
I liked the way my cart showed a running total. Some items were estimated, for example, they can’t know exactly how much your bunch of bananas is going to weigh until they ring it in. But in general, you get a close estimate of how much you’re spending. This was far, far, more accurate than the running tally I normally try to keep in my head while shopping in store. I could see how having an estimated total readily available would help me stay on budget. You could always go back to your cart and take out some of the less necessary items if you were getting close to your spending limit.
By the time hubby got home I was finishing up my grocery shopping. I came downstairs, tech in hand, and asked him to check if I was putting the right deodorant in the cart. I handed the tablet over to him and he looked at the list of forty-some different sticks of Old Spice available and pointed out his current favourite scent (not Fiji, I can promise you that). We then sat on the couch and discussed what he’d like for lunches for the week.
He wasn’t sure what to pick, noting how he would normally get deli lunchmeats, but obviously, that wasn’t an option. “Oh, no, you can get lunch meats. You can get pretty much anything they have in the store. There’s a whole deli section on here.” He was surprised, but then pointed out that there was another problem, he wouldn’t be able to tell them to slice the meat thin. “Hmm… Let me look. Hey, neat! There’s a drop-down menu here where you can pick thick, thin or medium sliced.” We decided on which of the several varieties of ham available he wanted, thin sliced, and added it to our order.
As I was checking out I noticed another cool money saving feature. I got a pop-up pointing out that the buns I had chosen were a multi-buy deal, and if I grabbed one more bag I would save $1. Cool. Sure, we can always use more buns. Speaking of money saving versus splurging, I want to mention that all of the prices online were the same as in store. They do charge a pickup fee which ranges from $3-$5, based on what time slot you choose. Even taking the pickup fee into account, I felt like I saved money by shopping online with Click & Collect, because I made less random or impulse buys, and I also combed through the flyer and sales section and picked out plenty of deals.
I set a pickup time, placed my order and headed off to bed. So far, so good. The next morning I received an email letting me know that a few of the items I had picked out were out of stock. I was a bit disappointed, but not shocked. I thought to myself, well I guess I’ll just need to run in and pick up a few things when I get there. Now, I should mention there was a setting where I could have specified if I wanted them to substitute out of stock items for me, but I had checked off “No substitutions” because I was worried about what I might end up with.
A little bit later the phone rang. It was my personal shopper Keiri calling from Zehrs. She wanted to know if I had seen the email they had sent and asked if I had time to go over the items that weren’t available. Now I hate, I mean absolutely hate, having to chat on the phone with strangers. I felt awkward, but didn’t want to be rude, so I said, “Um, sure.” and let her start listing off things.
First up, PC Black Label Chocolate Espresso Beans. She couldn’t find them anywhere in the store and suspected they no longer actually carried them. Did I want to substitute something else? Ha. No. Thank you, I don’t actually need chocolate covered coffee beans.
Next up, the one flavour of Slammers I had picked was out of stock, but the other two varieties were available. Not remembering the real name I told her “Just get me two boxes of the pink one.” And she was good with that.
And so we continued down the list. They were out of pork schnitzel, but they had chicken and it was on sale this week. Sure, let’s try the chicken. No Morning Glory muffins (darn it!), but yes, she could grab me some carrot ones instead.
The pork sausage burgers I had picked out weren’t available, so I gave her the vague direction of “finding me something fresh, not frozen, that I can put on a bun”. She asked me if I was okay with beef and I told her to surprise me.
The conversation was surprisingly comfortable. My personal shopper, Keiri, was super knowledgeable about the products available in her store, and was able to take my vague directions and turn them into a completed order. She told me she’d run out and add those last few items to my order and that it would be ready to pick up anytime. She reminded me that I just needed to pull into one of the designated Click & Collect parking spots and then call the number provided and she’d be right out with my groceries. I got off the phone feeling good about the whole ordeal (which is downright shocking for me, remember HATE talking to people on the phone).
With hubby on afternoons and the kids off at school for the day a middle of the day pick-up seemed ideal, so we had chosen the 11am to 1pm time slot. We pulled into the Zehrs around 12:30 and I used hubby’s cell phone to call the number posted on the sign at the curb. The woman on the phone got me to answer a few quick questions. I told her how I’d like to pay and let her know which numbered Click & Collect spot we’d pulled into. When creating my account online I had to provide a credit card for security. So I opted to pay by having them just put it on the card on file, but I could have gone inside and paid by cash, or gift card (or PC Points!).
Within a few minutes, Keiri was outside with my order. She came up to the driver side window and handed my husband a receipt, a hand signed thank you note and a free bottle of water. Then she went around back and started loading bags into our van. I felt weird just sitting there while someone else loaded in my groceries, so I got out and went around back. However, she was so terribly efficient at her job that I felt like I was in the way back there. She had this cool cart with bins. All of my stuff was perfectly bagged, organised and sorted, so that the frozen stuff was all together, the can goods were all together, etc. Everything was cold and fresh. The frozen stuff had been sitting in a freezer, and the cold things had been sitting in a fridge, waiting for me to arrive. Keiri was doing an awesome job of loading my trunk, putting the heavy stuff in first and saving the bread products and other lighter or crushable things to go in last. I was impressed. I thanked her, closed up the hatch, popped back in the car and off we drove. (I later thought that I should have tipped her because, seriously, she was awesome.)
We got home, unloaded the bags and I began to put away the groceries. Everything was perfect. Perfectly picked and perfectly packed. Everything was just what I had asked for. My personal shopper had found some awesome Marc Angelo brand sausage burgers to sub in for the unavailable patties I had picked out (we had them for dinner last night, they were super yum). The only errors in my order were errors I myself had made, because I didn’t understand the system. For example, I thought I was ordering 1kg worth of potatoes, and instead I ended up with one potato. Ha. One potato does not make a serving of mashed for my family for four. Next time, knowing how the ordering system works, I’ll ask for four or five.
Looking at that one potato sitting there on it’s lonesome reminded me of the last time I sent my husband to pick up groceries without me. I had asked him to pick up potatoes and he came home with the wrong ones. I specifically told him I needed yukon gold potatoes, the kind I use for mashing. As we stood talking in the side door landing I even grabbed the bag of potatoes sitting on our kitchen counter and showed him a spud with a thin yellow skin, telling him to look for potatoes just like this one. “Yep. Yukon Gold. Got it.”, he assured me as he walked out the door. Twenty minutes later he came home with jacket potatoes, the kind with the thick skin that taste best when you bake them.
At the time I just shook my head and made baked potatoes to go with dinner instead of mashed. But this is just one example of how awkward it can be to get someone else to shop for you. Having my personal shopper do my grocery shopping for me with Zehrs Click & Collect was surprisingly not awkward at all. I expected to enjoy the service, but in the end, I was shocked by just how incredibly awesome of an experience it was. Every part of the process was smooth, orderly, and well done.
I will admit, placing this first order was a bit overwhelming. There was almost too much selection, and it took me well over an hour to get my order together. However, I suspect that over time I’ll get much quicker at picking out my groceries online. The one thing that occurred to me today is, I can use the cart in my Click & Collect account as my on-going grocery list. Adding items to it throughout the week, as we run out, or as I think of things I need for specific meals, and then just finish up and hit order whenever the cart starts to get full.
Overall I was super impressed with Zehr’s Click & Collect. It’s a service I will definitely be using regularly going forward. As I mentioned previously, P&G has challenged me to do all of my shopping via Loblaws Click & Collect for the next four weeks and to track how much time I can save by shopping online. I’ll be reporting back in a few weeks to let you know how many Mommy Minutes I’ve saved (and what fun things I come up with to do with all that extra time).
So far I have to say, getting to do my grocery shopping from home at midnight in my PJs was pretty awesome.
How much time do you spend grocery shopping each week? Have any of you ever shopped via Loblaws Click & Collect?