YOUR ORDER IS READY: PUBLIX TESTS DELI-ORDER BEEPERS

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix Super Markets here is piloting a system that uses restaurant-style beepers to alert shoppers when their deli orders are ready for pickup."This is all about being mindful of the customer's time and making the shopping experience easier," said spokeswoman Maria Brous. "It allows customers to pick up whatever else they need and then come back when their order is ready."The initiative

LAKELAND, Fla. ยก- Publix Super Markets here is piloting a system that uses restaurant-style beepers to alert shoppers when their deli orders are ready for pickup.

"This is all about being mindful of the customer's time and making the shopping experience easier," said spokeswoman Maria Brous. "It allows customers to pick up whatever else they need and then come back when their order is ready."

The initiative has been tested for the last month in five Atlanta-area stores and was expanded to five Miami-area stores last week.

"So far the system is working well," she said. "To measure the program's effectiveness, we're orchestrating the process in a few different ways."

In one scenario, a deli associate intercepts customers and invites them to place an order and try the system. After placing orders for deli meats and cheeses, the customer is given a beeper so that they can continue with their other shopping. The beeper will vibrate, light up and emit a tone when the order has been fulfilled, Brous said. The customer can then visit the designated pickup area, retrieve the order and return the beeper.

Different stores will designate different order-holding areas, she said. Also, certain stores will mark shoppers' deli orders with customers' names, while others will mark the orders with numbers.

Brous said there have not been any reports of instances where customers have left the store with the beeper or neglected to pick up their order.

The retailer, who's been promoting the service in participating stores with in-store signs, projects that the program will add to sales, but noted the system may not be for everyone.

"There will always be customers with different preferences," Brous said. "Some believe that the interaction with the deli associate is worth the wait. That is one of the questions that we're hoping to find an answer to with the pilot."

Publix is also monitoring higher-traffic deli hours and hoping to learn whether it's most efficient to have deli associates designated only to handle orders from shoppers using the beepers.