Last updated on July 7th, 2023 at 04:25 pm
Abingdon, Virginia-based Food City, The Shelby Report of the Southeast’s Retailer of the Year, has offered e-commerce since 2015. It began with GoCart, the retailer’s curbside pickup platform.
Today, Food City’s e-commerce includes internal programs, partnerships with third parties and a robust savings program to bring the best experience to customers, according to Kevin Stafford, VP of marketing.
GoCart promises same-day pickup in as little as three hours with no minimum order required. Introduced at 10 locations, it has grown to 100. There is a $4.99 pickup fee that can be waived if customers buy enough of a participating brands’ products.
“It’s our website, our mobile, our professional shoppers, which I think makes the difference in our stores,” Stafford said. “The professional shoppers are trained to look for that fresh produce or that fresh meat. There’s an extensive training process to go through for our professional shoppers to make sure they can meet the demands of the customer.”
Food City offers a survey to GoCart users after each order. Ninety-five percent of them say it is “exceeding their expectations,” Stafford said.
While pickup is not available at every Food City location, “every town is covered.” At least one store in all of the retailer’s market areas offers it. And as Food City continues to expand and update stores, adding GoCart is always considered.
“We think it’ll be just the same as any other convenience that a customer wants. You got to have the staging area, you got to have room for cold storage,” Stafford explained.
GoCart differentiates itself from other retailers’ pickup services by letting customers personalize the shopping experience. They can give personal shoppers instructions, such as to look for extra-ripe bananas. Customers can also use a variety of payment methods, including SNAP EBT.
The app and website were co-developed by Food City and Knoxville, Tennessee-based Aisle Ahead, keeping with Food City’s efforts to remain local whenever possible.
“We talk about local. We talk about local produce. We also try to keep things local when we can,” Stafford said. “And we’ve had a great partnership with Aisle Ahead…we’re nimble in what we do. We also have our own picking app.”
The picking app allows shoppers to scan items with their mobile devices as they shop to provide another avenue for checkout.
Food City has partnered with Instacart since 2017 for grocery delivery. Customers use the platform’s app or Food City’s white label site, foodcitydelivers.com. DoorDash is the most recent extension of the company’s e-commerce offerings.
“Now on DoorDash, we kind of have a three-legged stool. We have foodservice, floral and grocery pickup offerings. If you want a slice of pizza or one of our hot bar meals, those are available,” Stafford explained.
Floral delivery continues to grow as more people discover the service, Stafford said. He believes many customers found the offering useful on Valentine’s Day.
“You wouldn’t think floral would be as big of an offering, but Valentine’s Day it was unbelievable. We rolled out the service in June or July of last year. In one day, Valentine’s Day, we did more than we did in the entire year. We have seen excellent growth after,” Stafford said.
Customers can get the full Food City experience on the company’s website, foodcity.com. They can place orders for customized cakes, party trays, Grab N’ Go food or ready-to-heat meals; create a pickup order; view sales; access their ValuCard membership benefits; and find recipes.
Food City’s ValuCard is described on the company’s website as the “most valuable thing in your wallet.” Customers can use the ValuCard to access special pricing, earn fuel points, support local schools, get access to ValuCard partnership discounts and join free clubs.
ValuCards are tailored to customers’ needs. Customers with children can join the Food City Baby Club or Food City Kid’s Club and link their cards to their child’s school. The kids and baby clubs feature special coupons, offerings and events, and the company will send each child a birthday card. Parents can earn money for their child’s school through the company’s School Bucks program.
Food City also offers a pet club and wellness club, which come with their own benefits. Members can also get special discounts with corporate partners such as $3 off admission at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.