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Dash’s to start click-and-collect grocery shopping

Answering the prayers of busy consumers across Western New York, four-store grocery chain Dash’s Market will soon offer click-and-collect curb-side grocery pickup. Tops and Wegmans are also considering the concept.

“It’s only a matter of time before it becomes ubiquitous,” said Burt Flickinger III, a grocery expert and managing director at Strategic Resource Group.

Dash’s will be the first traditional grocer in Western New York to offer the service, which allows a customer to select a shopping list of items online, then have them either delivered at home or loaded into their vehicle at the store’s curb.

Click-and-collect grocery pickup is an emerging trend that’s catching on quickly. Supermarkets across the United States and Europe already offer the service and many more are studying it.

Warehouse store Sam’s Club offers Click ‘n’ Pull, a service that allows customers who submit online orders by 5 p.m. to pick them up in the store the following day. That program is free to club members, but many item categories are not available with the service and customers have to go the inside the store to the service desk to retrieve their purchases. Sam’s Club has stores in Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls and Jamestown.

Wegmans began testing a click-and-collect program of its own at its Pittsford store earlier this year called “personal shopping.” And while Wegmans has no plans to expand the program to Western New York at this time, the service is picking up steam at the pilot store.

“It’s going well at Pittsford,” said Michele Mehaffy, a Wegmans spokeswoman. “We have several new users each week, and we have many who are using it on a weekly basis.”

The price for Wegmans’ service is $10 per order plus 25 cents per item scanned.

Tops Friendly Markets said it is “studying and exploring” the program, too, but declined to share details.

“If this concept comes to fruition, Tops will ensure that curb-side pickup would be an easy and meaningful option for our customers to use,” said Katie McKenna, a Tops spokeswoman.

Click-and-collect and grocery delivery programs are already in common use in larger markets around the country. As other markets catch on, retail experts believe customers will come to expect the service from all grocers.

Walmart just launched a free click-and-collect service at its Bentonville, Ark., store. Peapod, a division of Ahold that offers curb-side pickup and home delivery, fills millions of orders in 24 markets in the Northeast and Midwest. Wakefern and ShopRite, Wegmans’ biggest competitors in Pennsylvania, report success with their click-and-collect and click-and-deliver programs.

Amazon Fresh offers free same-day or next-day grocery delivery to Prime Fresh members who pay $299 per year in San Francisco and other markets. The groceries arrive in insulated packaging within an agreed upon three-hour window.

Dash’s service should “do phenomenally well,” Flickinger predicts.

Though it is “just a matter of time” before every grocer offers click-and-collect service, he said, Dash’s will get an advantage by being the first, drawing a new clientele and allowing it to capture customers who normally shop elsewhere. Dash’s could increase its sales by up to 10 percent, Flickinger estimates, without having to expand its footprint.

“Retailers usually break even with the service fee,” he said. “And if a customer values their time at minimum wage it’s usually cost effective. Shoppers will even wind up saving money.”

While popular among busy parents as well as seniors and people with mobility issues, Flickinger predicts it will become very popular among current 16- to 25-year-olds for whom entering a store has never been a necessary part of the shopping experience.

Dash’s is in the final stages of negotiation with Rosie App, a click-and-collect software company, and plans to get started on the project early next year. The service will be available at all its stores: Hertel Avenue, Clarence, East Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda.

Dash’s did not want to elaborate on details of the program, but said it is in the process of negotiating terms and pricing.

“We’re just as excited about it as everyone else, but we have to wait until the agreement is in place,” said Mark Mahoney, Dash’s director of operations.

Rosie App provides the technology and teaches grocers how to implement the program and provide customized marketing.

In addition to click-and-collect, Rosie offers grocery delivery through third-party companies. Rosie typically charges a flat fee plus a percentage markup on each item. Grocery delivery, a key component of the program that Dash’s is also considering, typically starts within a 5 to 7 mile radius. Rosie does not accept coupons.

The app also anticipates shopper preferences based on their demographics and shopping history and suggests products accordingly. It can also remind a customer when they might be running low on paper towels at home, or let them know when their favorite cut of meat or brand of oatmeal is on sale.