Publix Super Markets Inc. is venturing back into the online grocery business with a test at a store in Atlanta and one in Tampa.
Called Publix Curbside, the service, which will cost $7.99 an order, will enable customers to place their orders online, then pick them up from a designated Publix store within a scheduled 30-minute window.
Publix workers will fill and tally the order and load it into your parked vehicle, just like many restaurant takeout services.
"You don't even have to leave your car," said Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for the Lakeland-based grocer. "We know that customers today are growing to expect online service like this. This is about helping customers save time."
The Atlanta store will offer a drive-through. The Tampa store, at 7835 Gunn Highway in Citrus Park, will operate from designated spaces in the parking lot and a small packing room set up inside the store entrance. The Atlanta test starts later this month, while the one in Tampa is slated to open by October.
Publix lost money on an earlier online shopping experiment called Publix Direct that was offered only in South Florida. It was shut down in 2003 after operating for two years. It offered home delivery from a central warehouse and cost $2 more than Publix Curbside will.
Publix said customers "loved it" but the chain never developed enough volume to make it profitable.
Mark Albright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8252.