Cathy Hosler and her husband live in East Anchorage, and between their full-time jobs and trying to get home on time to let their dogs out of the house, there's not a ton of time in the day for grocery shopping.
In November, Hosler decided to try a new service at the Fred Meyer at DeBarr and Muldoon roads that lets you do your shopping on the store's website or app and then drive up to the store, call a number, have a worker load your order into your car and be done.
Now, a month later, "I swear by it," Hosler said.
National retailers have launched services like this — where you buy online and then pick up at the store — to streamline shopping and compete with Amazon. Some such services have been around for years, like Home Depot's, which started in 2011. But others, like Fred Meyer's ClickList and Nordstrom's curbside pickup, are newer.
ClickList launched this year at Fred Meyer locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Wasilla.
"I think it's huge for Alaska," said Andrea Roberts, e-commerce manager at the Wasilla store. "I see people who are just so thankful that they don't have to get out in the weather. The elderly — it is so hard for them to push that cart through the snow."
You can order everything from produce to meat to housewares and more. The first three times using ClickList are free, and after that you get charged $4.95 for each pickup.
"My time is so worth $5," Hosler said.
At the West Fairbanks Fred Meyer, Eric Brown supervises the ClickList program and said it's one more way to appeal to busy parents. His store hired about 15 part-time workers to staff the service, and the Wasilla store added about 20.
If you're planning to stop at the Nordstrom in downtown Anchorage, you can order and pay online, then call or text the store, and pull up to its curbside pickup location at Sixth Avenue and D Street, where an employee meets you. That service launched here in November.
Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Miami-based firm Retail Systems Research, said there are several reasons why people might take to this newer way of shopping.
"Sometimes people are concerned something will get stolen off of their porch. … Sometimes they just want to put it in their hot little hands," Rosenblum said. "You can order something online and get it in two days. But you can go to the store and — instant gratification."
The trend is part of the overall transformation of the retail experience, Rosenblum said. You might research a pair of shoes online and then see them in a store and decide to buy them, or you might see them in a store, go home, and buy them online. Or maybe you see them at Nordstrom, think about whether you really want them, and then order them online and swing by curbside pickup later that day.
"Why would you return to, 'I only want to shop online or in stores?' " she said. "There are occasions where people will want to do each and every one of those things."
She said offering these online ordering, in-store pickup services can "somewhat" help brick-and-mortar retailers compete against Amazon, but the bigger selling point is a unique in-store experience.
Matt Deluca, store manager at the Target in South Anchorage, said they've offered the service for a few years. Walmart has it, too.
At Home Depot on Tudor Road in Anchorage, store manager Jason DeJardin said 45 percent of online orders are picked up in-store across the whole chain. When those customers head in to get their orders, he said, about 20 to 25 percent spend more money once they get there.
"The trend of the shopper is showing us it's more convenient to shop from home," he said, "but at the same time … having both options of coming in the store to see what you want, that experience is often starting online and converts to the in-store experience."