The COVID-19 pandemic recently prompted me to place my first online pickup order at Sam's Club.
Like many grocery shoppers, I had a pretty good idea of the items I wanted to purchase. So rather than browsing categories or deals, I used the list of my frequently ordered items as well as the product search function within samsclub.com to find specific items to add to my cart.
While the e-commerce experience overall was pretty seamless, I noted two downfalls as I was shopping for groceries on samsclub.com:
- None of the almond milk listings clearly specified if the product was shelf stable or required refrigeration. I had to read through customer comments to determine if a particular SKU required refrigeration and did not have any luck finding an almond milk that I was certain would be shelf stable. I ended up buying that from another retailer.
- When buying produce, there was no ability to provide notes on the specific quality of ripeness I desired. In stores, I've generally found the retailer's bulk bags of avocados to be firm so I took the risk and ordered a bag. Unfortunately, the avocados I received were all overly ripe and I would not ordered them online again.
By the time I was done filling my cart (those massive packages of private label Member's Mark toilet paper and paper towels were still out of stock, by the way), the time slot I had originally eyed for pickup was no longer available. I settled for the next time slot and enrolled for text message pickup alerts.
I received a notification that my order was ready a full four hours before my scheduled pickup hour and pulled into the parking lot nearly two hours ahead of my designated pickup time. Driving past the concierge curbside pickup area for seniors, I sent a text message indicating I had arrived. A reply message instructed me to head inside the store to the Club Pickup counter for my order.
Inside the store, the greeter and directional signage pointed me to the dedicated counter located behind checkout. An easel sign positioned near the entryway also proclaimed "We're here for you" and depicted a QR code shoppers could scan to hear CEO Kathryn McLay cover the extra steps the warehouse club is taking to prioritize shopper health during the pandemic.
I gave the masked employee staffing the counter my pickup number and waited a few minutes for all my items to be gathered from the rack of shelf stable items that had been pulled for online orders and combined with those in dedicated coolers holding refrigerated and frozen products. I had prepaid for my order online, so as soon as everything was ready, I grabbed my cart and headed out the door.
Except for the couple snags noted above, the experience was pretty seamless, it is offered free for Plus-level members and it saved me a lot of time. I will definitely do it again, especially now that Sam's Club is rolling out a curbside pickup service for the general population. The warehouse club retailer had been piloting contact-free, delivery-to-car shopping at 16 stores reporting positive results and expects to expand the experience to all of its 597 stores by the end of June.