Co-op’s Estevan grocery store adds to online presence

The Southern Plains Co-op has expanded its online offering for its Estevan grocery store. 

Carol McKay, the human resources manager for the co-op, said Federated Co-op Ltd. has developed an online shopping program, and Southern Plains signed up for it from the outset for the Estevan location.

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Everything in the store is now available, including alcohol, and she compared the online shopping experience to walking down the aisle and searching for and finding the things they are looking for.  

“People can go on the website, and literally shop the store. All the products that are available, if you walked into the building, are available online, and you literally go through and pick what you want,” said McKay. 

It will then be ready for pickup at the time you specify.  

The co-op has been testing this system for a while, and it launched in Estevan a couple of weeks ago. McKay noted the staff has been using it as well, as they will pick out their products from the pickup spot at the end of their shift.

The response from the public has exceeded their expectations.

“It’s now overtaking the delivery service, where we’ve got more orders coming in through the shopping online rather than the delivery option.” 

Young families, with the adults between the ages of 30 and 40, are most likely to use this option, which isn’t a surprise for the co-op, as it follows a trend they’ve seen when studying statistics from other sectors.

The co-op implemented a delivery option for its customers at the start of the pandemic for those who didn’t want to go out and enter a store. The delivery initiative is still available for co-op customers, but McKay said the new online shopping experience would have happened regardless of whether they have the delivery program.

Online shopping is becoming a growing service for co-ops, and Southern Plains received assistance to get the programming in place.   

“They have launched it quite successfully in other markets, so we just signed up for it, said it’s something we want here, and got in the lineup, and now we’re accessing and using it,” said McKay.  

According to the website, Estevan is just the third city in the province to have this option, along with Regina and Saskatoon.

Most of the co-op’s customers still come into the store to shop. The co-op is busy with those who still prefer to shop in person. 

“With Christmas picking up, we’re busy with that aspect of it and now that we have the online shopping aspect of it, that’s added a new line to us and a new service,” said McKay. 

She expects that shopping needs for Christmas have changed due to COVID, so people have opted for online shopping rather than dealing with the crowds.   

A decision has yet to be made on whether this program will be expanded to their food stores in Carlyle and Oxbow. It will depend on how successful it is in Estevan, because there is a lot of work required with such a venture.

“If it’s very successful, I would think we will look at it,” said McKay. 

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