Saturday, April 12, 2008

This has taken up way too much of my time this week...

but it was fun and pretty cool. I've been saying for ages that I want to try taking advantage of a service that my grocery shopping places offer, and just haven't gotten around to it. I spent a lot of time on it this week, researching how it worked and learning the systems, but the time it saved in the end, and will continue to save, more than made up for it.

So this past week, I took advantage of Sam's Club Click N Pull, and Schnucks Express Connection. Click N Pull is free, Schnucks charges a small fee that I think is WELL worth it. ($7 to go pick it up, $16 to have it delivered to your house.)

So, Click N Pull first. Lots of stops and starts here, that included finding out my membership was due for renewal, and two or three days in which the Sam's website absolutely would. not. load. on our home computer. I have no clue still what that was all about. I tried it on three computers elsewhere, it all worked. Only in our house was the weird Sam's Club site blocking force field. It eventually went away on it's own and we never figured out what was up. Once I finally got going, it was wonderful. Navigating the "aisles" was very easy once I got the hang of it. After a while though, I got lazy and just typed in "Chex Mix", or "juice", or "bacon" in the search bar and things went much faster.

This also gave me a great little bonus. You know how, when you're shopping online, off to the side or bottom there will be a "you might also like" or "customers who bought this also bought..." thing? To try to get you to buy more? When I went to purchase Chex Mix, Sam's hilariously offered me a men's velour robe and some blue jeans. Goldfish crackers offered up a ladies' diamond watch. Regular grocery shopping isn't usually that funny, so that was nice.

As you're shopping, you can also choose to "add to list" for each item you select. So if you tend to buy some of the same things at each shopping trip, like I do, you can create and save a shopping list to save time on future purchases. Good thinking on their part. So the shopping went very smoothly, as did checkout. I just chose to pay at the store, chose my pickup time, and was done.

Pickup went very well too. It took about ten minutes to go in, have someone pull our order and bring it up, pay, and leave. I loved this, and will absolutely do it from now on.

Schnucks went well too, only there were a few drawbacks. I'm pretty sure that their entire inventory wasn't available on the website. Which means that I didn't get a few things that I wanted. Navigation of the aisles was a bit more confusing, but I think that stems from the "not everything instore is avail. on the site" thing. Once I went for pickup though, I was delighted. My pickup time was scheduled for "5:00-8:00 PM" on Thursday. We happened to finish our errands early, so we stopped by at 4:15 with fingers crossed. Our order was completely ready to go. Someone went to get it while we paid at customer service, which meant we got to skip the regular checkout line. The employee was back in record time with a loaded cart. The cart itself was very cold, which made me laugh - obviously they packed our order into the cart, then just shoved the whole thing into a walk in fridge. Which, hey, great! Sam's Club could learn from that - we had to wait longer because they were pulling our cold items. I loved this too, and will absolutely keep using it.

A few small drawbacks. As I mentioned, Schnucks had a more limited selection than they would have instore, which means I'm going to have to actually go pick up three things on a second trip. Also, I wasn't thrilled with the produce - I purchased tomatoes, apples, grapes, and bananas. While they were okay, they weren't what I would have chosen myself.

The pros, though: I saved a ton of time, and money. When shopping like this, I waste much less time wandering around picking up impulse purchases. My total grocery bill was almost $100 less than normal, and that's including the Sam's Club $40 membership renewal. Kev and I took the time we normally would have spent grocery shopping having a nice lunch at Panera, and just hanging out together. Yep, TOTALLY worth it.

Next time, I'll skip ordering produce online. I'll probably just choose and purchase it myself when I go to pick up the rest of my order.

Love this service. You should too. Use it.

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