LAKELAND — Forget taking a number and standing in line for your Publix sub, wrap, deli meat and cheese.
The grocery chain is starting online deli ordering to reduce bottlenecks at the counter and better serve customers in a hurry.
Publix will start the free feature Aug. 3 at its Southgate Shopping Center store in Lakeland and plans to expand it to an additional 50 stores by the end of the year, many of them in the Tampa Bay area.
"Our customers tell us they love the deli products,'' said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten. "They just want to get them a little quicker.''
Customers will place their orders online or via a mobile device at publix.com/order. Shoppers can specify a date and time for pickup or select immediate processing, which takes 15 to 20 minutes. Some locations will have in-store kiosks where customers can place an order and shop while it is being filled.
Always get a turkey and provolone on wheat with lettuce, tomato and mayo? The system will allow customers to save their selections to their "favorites'' for future orders.
No minimum purchase is required, and shoppers will pay at the register with the rest of their groceries. Completed orders will be ready at the "Online Easy Pickup'' area in the deli department.
"Publix Deli Online Easy Ordering is a natural extension of our service commitment, especially for our on-the-go customers," said Maria Brous, Publix's director of media and community relations.
Up until now, Publix has taken sub and wrap orders over the phone but not for deli meat and cheese. The stores will designate deli employees to process the on-line orders, and any change can be made in the deli department.