The click-and-collect trend is finally gaining momentum among America’s largest grocers.

The click-and-collect trend is finally gaining momentum among America’s largest grocers.

Last week, Kroger revealed plans to test the service at its Liberty Township store in Ohio. The new service will be tested very gradually, first among Kroger’s own employees, before it is potentially rolled out to additional stores.

The news should not come as a huge surprise. Earlier this year, Kroger acquired regional chain Harris Teeter - one of the first US supermarkets to successfully run a pick-up service for online orders. It is likely that the Kroger service will be closely modelled on that of Harris Teeter, which enables shoppers to collect their online orders in-store for a $4.95 (£3) fee. Shoppers also have the option to sign up for a subscription, an option that is proving increasingly common in the US, for $16.95 (£10.35) for 30 days or $99.95 (£61.20) for one year of unlimited online shopping.

That might not sound exactly ground-breaking by UK standards but we have to remember that the US lags behind in click-and-collect. Planet Retail research shows that only 13% of online shoppers in the US collect their orders, compared with 35% in the UK. If we were to look specifically at the grocery sector, the difference would be even greater.

Past attempts to roll out grocery click-and-collect have failed to resonate with shoppers. For example, in 2012, regional grocer Publix discontinued its Curbside service. However, over the past 18 months, we have seen a real shift in consumer acceptance - and consequently retailer activity - with regard to grocery click-and- collect. Last year, Walmart launched its own ‘To Go’ service while Ahold-owned Peapod began using its sister brands Stop & Shop and Giant Food as pick-up points.

Other regional grocers are also jumping on board - Wegmans launched its own grocery click-and-collect service earlier this year and Hannaford continues to roll out its ‘To Go’ service.

The rise of services such as Instacart and Google Shopping Express are also contributing to the development of online grocery shopping in the US. Meanwhile, AmazonFresh continues to expand into new cities, posing an even greater threat to traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.

In-store pick-up especially appeals to busy parents who will pay for the convenience of not having to trudge around the supermarket with children in tow. However, it’s only one piece of the jigsaw - there is still plenty of work to be done around making home delivery a more seamless and enjoyable experience.

  • Natalie Berg is global research director at Planet Retail