Doing the weekly shop on the Internet beats trailing up and down the aisles and queueing at the tills.
But then customers may have to wait days for their groceries to arrive. And when they do, it may be at an inconvenient time.
Now Sainbury’s may have solved the problem by creating what is, in effect, the first drive-thru supermarket.
Customers who order online will be able to pick up the groceries when it suits them and have them loaded into their car without even getting out.
Internet shopping is worth £800million a year in the UK – Sainsbury’s has 25,000 customers a week – but delivery times can be hard to find, with some of the most popular timeslots booked weeks in advance. So the ability to collect the groceries at your convenience should ensure it grows still further.
The drive-thru supermarket is one of several ideas being tried out by Sainsbury’s at a ‘concept store’ in Manchester, which opens tomorrow.
Among the other services being introduced at the Hazel Grove store are personal shoppers who, for a £5 fee, will do the customer’s shopping for them.
The service will work in tandem with relaxation areas where children can play and adults can surf the Internet or have a coffee.
When the customer arrives at the store he or she hands their grocery list to the personal shopper and borrows a mobile phone.
Once all the goods have been selected and scanned through the checkout, the shopper phones the customer. They then pay, while the shopper packs the goods and loads them into their car.
For those who are happy to shop but don’t want to queue at the till and pack, there will be an ‘Easy Checkout’ where staff will take over the chores for a fee of £2.50.
There is also a vending machine the size of a minibus, with 150 lines from bread to batteries, which operates when the store is shut.
Ideas for the services and store lay- out came from a group of customers who were surveyed on how to make shopping easier and more fun.
A ‘Kidszone’ will feature large plasma screens showing cartoons, a Lego table, fairground mirrors and games designed by the Science Museum. Families will be able to relax here while the personal shopper or packing staff complete their tasks. There will also be an Internet cafe.
Parents with young children will have priority parking spaces monitored on CCTV.
As a result, staff can keep track of every car using the spaces and offer help.
The store also has a ‘Quick Shop’ with its own entrance and convenience foods. This area will have its own parking, where a monitoring system counts down 20 minutes from when the driver pulls in.
Shopper Gill Hurran, a member of the focus group, said: ‘To see our ideas put into practice is so exciting.’
Sainsbury’s future stores manager, Diana Hunter said: ‘We were impressed with the ideas the group put forward and they really gave us something to get our teeth into.’