2015-07-16 / Front Page

Drive-through grocery pick-up approved

By NATHAN LYNCH Special to the Journal Tribune

KENNEBUNK — Picking up your groceries at the Kennebunk Hannaford will soon get a lot easier, as the company plans to expand its “Hannaford To-Go” online ordering and pick-up system to the store in the coming months.

The program allows customers to place their grocery order online ”“ up until 3 p.m. for same-day pick-up ”“ and then drive up to a queueing station where Hannaford employees will load your groceries into your car and complete the purchase.

According to engineer Jay Lord, who presented the project to Kennebunk's Planning Board on June 22, average times from arrival to purchase run about five minutes.

“It's good for older folks who can't walk and disabled folks,” Kennebunk Store Manager Dave Cole said. “I work 10 hours in the store, and if I can place my order ahead of time that's great ”¦ 90 percent of what I get is the same every week.”

According to the company, the choice to expand to Kennebunk was because the store has consistently strong sales, and is situated in a region where Hannaford wants to attract new customers and doesn't already have a to-go location.

“It's a good sized store ”¦ it does really great business, and (has) a good volume of customers: customers in the region who might find it appealing,” Director of External Communication and Community Relations Michael Norton said. “We want our current customers to use this but we also want new customers.”

In the two existing Maine locations with the service, it is also popular with people on vacation who who want to pick up groceries along their trip.

“People want to try it on the way to their destination. They love the convenience,” Norton said.

While convenience may be the main appeal to the program, Norton said Hannaford has been working hard to replicate the one area customers may not want to give up control over: selecting their own produce. The online order form includes a notes section where customers can leave directions or requests to employees about the quality of their produce.

“If you're choosing bananas and you want them on the green side or you want a (ripe) avocado for guacamole you write those notes on the form ”“ the people who get those items take pride in picking the right one,” Norton said.

Hannaford has been piloting the program for several years, and Norton said that while it hasn't announced expansion to any more stores yet, it doesn't plan on stopping here.

Out of the 180 Hannaford locations in the U.S., only 10 locations so far have the to-go system in Maine, New Hampshire and New York.

“Generally there are several hundred people a week that are ordering their groceries (to-go),” Norton said of the average demand in North Windham and Yarmouth, adding that additional staff will likely be added to meet the increased demand. The program is free for the first order and then for subsequent orders over $125.

On July 22, the Planning Board voted to approve the plan, contingent on changes to signs, for the queueing station. The design makes use of a former bank drive-through and will absorb several parking spaces in the Hannaford lot.

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