Online shopping has taken off in the last few years and now Valleyview Co-op in Virden has launched online shopping with SHOP.CRS. Shoppers can order groceries from the Virden food store from the comfort of home or while on a break in the workday.
Will the aisles of the grocery store become devoid of shoppers? Not likely, but for some, it may become the way to get supplies and be able to head home from work a little earlier.
SHOP.CRS is a web-based service accessible from your phone, device or computer. Blake Krahn, Operations Manager for Valleyview, hopes that people will take full advantage of this shopping service because, for remote ordering, he says this service saves both customers and staff time and effort.
“What I really like about it, I think that for our customers it’s a great offering. In retail, you always want to do what’s best for your customers and a lot of times that means extra work. This time, you know what, this is easier than what we’ve been doing.”
Of course, those who cannot access SHOP.CRS through a device or computer can continue to phone in their orders. While the transition to online brings to an end the telephone ordering and free delivery service for the general public, Krahn says phone orders will continue for those who need it most. “Many of our legacy members don’t have access to the technology [for] SHOP.CRS and we want to make sure we continue to support them as best we can.”
The move to SHOP.CRS comes with several benefits for local shoppers. When visiting the site, customers will be able to choose from a list of visual items, and also select a second choice should the first be sold out. Viewing the online catalog of items customers can, for example, see the co-op’s selection of olive oil products, or check if toilet paper or some other item is on sale. It’s all there online.
So, for orders, Krahn says, “Oh yes, it’s fantastic. The old-fashioned way, you have to write it down, spend time on the phone, pick it, spend time on the cash register, ring it up and bag it.”
The reason online ordering saves time for store staff is because the built-in online system directs clerks on an aisle-by-aisle shopping trip with a scanner that has the order on it. Each item on the list is checked off as it’s selected from the shelf and scanned. At the end of the shopping list, the order is totalled automatically and paid for with the customer’s card.
Krahn says that for the staff, “everything is done automatically. Every time you pick an item and you scan it, if you pick a wrong item, it won’t let you proceed.” Much like automated self-checkouts, the order system “ask you if you’re done, has it been bagged… and when you head out to the car, the customer gets charged and you’re done.”
Krahn says that a $5 charge for the service gives good value and is in line with what other stores are charging.
“For quite a while we’ve been offering free delivery and free grocery shopping. So there’s a small charge associated with this.”
“When you think about what it takes to shop for somebody and pick that order, it’s probably about an hour and a half process to do one order (phone-in method) and that doesn’t even really begin to cover the cost.”
To allow for the delay between order time and pick-up, use the SHOP.CRS five hours before you expect to pick it up. Pick-ups will be available after 4 p.m. so, to get your order after a workday, place the order at noon.
There’s a keep-cold system in place for your ice cream (and other frozen or refrigerated items). Groceries are picked off the shelf a few hours in advance of pick-up. Insulated bags are stored in the freezer and when the order is assembled, items in those bags will stay cold - up to 12 hours.
During your initial visit to SHOP.CRS you’ll be asked to create an account and a password. Then, browse the week’s sales or search for items you need and start filling your virtual cart. Select a time for pick up, enter payment details, and submit your order
In the store parking lot, there’s a designated pick-up spot. Call the number on the sign and your order will be delivered to your car.
“If you have trouble… we can find the answers for you,” says Krahn.
Valleyview joins 44 other Co-op locations in Western Canada that provide this service through the SHOP.CRS platform.
Community members can apply for Extended Services, which include telephone grocery orders and grocery delivery. Applications will be considered for long-term coverage, but they can also be submitted for short-term medical reasons. A $5 fee per delivery order will be applied.
As operations manager, Krahn says the soft opening last week for families and staff of the store went very well and he’s happy to offer it to all shoppers. “I am very, very proud of this, I think it’s a great service for our community.”