Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Attention, busy holiday shoppers: H-E-B is testing a new delivery service in some areas of San Antonio. For those who need an extra hand with their to-do lists, the introduction of this latest convenience may come at a good time.
Banners went up earlier this month at a number of local stores announcing H-E-B delivery. Available in select zip codes, the service can be accessed at hebtoyou.com, where shoppers can choose either “curbside” or “delivery,” then select their grocery items, and make a payment online. Shoppers are notified by text message when the order is complete and again when the delivery driver is on the way.
To try out the H-E-B To You service, the Rivard Report recently placed an order for groceries that came to $44.19. The added “pick fee” was $4.95 and the delivery $7.50.
An H-E-B partner trained to select the best quality products would do our shopping, according to the H-E-B partner we spoke with on the Northside.
However, an independent delivery driver with Lash Delivery, a Dallas-based food and beverage delivery service, brought the groceries to our door at the designated time. (Just prior to publication of this story, Lash posted this to its website: The change in market conditions and increased competition in this space has compelled us to take a fresh look at our business priorities. As a result, Lash Delivery will no longer be providing service effective immediately.)
The green areas on this map show where H-E-B To You currently delivers in San Antonio:
The online ordering took about 15 minutes, and the delivery service saved us just under two hours of shopping and travel time. According to the Supermarket Guru website, consumers spend an average 44 minutes at the grocery store more than once a week.
The Food Marketing Institute's Trends Report reveals that online-only stores witnessed the most growth (11 percent) in 2016. Forty-three percent of Millennial consumers shop only online for their groceries.
H-E-B Spokeswoman Julie Bedingfield declined to provide any details about whether the service will be rolled out to all stores, saying the program is in a pilot test phase.
“At H-E-B, we are always testing new ideas and concepts to enhance the customer experience,” she said.
With annual sales of more than $23 billion and more than 370 stores, H-E-B dominates the San Antonio and South Texas grocery market. But price wars and competition for customer loyalty are ever-present in this $800 billion U.S. market. H-E-B is responding in any number of ways that cater to market trends, from making it easier to prepare meals to delivery services.
First came partnerships with apps like Shipt and Instacart, service providers that do the shopping for you and deliver your order. Both advertise that delivery is possible within an hour. Then H-E-B introduced Curbside, a service that lets customers shop online and pick up their groceries at the store at a designated hour.
By all accounts, Curbside has been well-received. Andrea Ramirez, who lives on the city's Northwest side, said she uses the service at least once a month. She drops her reusable shopping bags at the store, and H-E-B partners use them to bag her order. She said she clicks on the “no substitutions” option to make sure she gets the exact items she wants, then picks up her order while she’s out running errands or meeting clients.
When the Rivard Report ordered goods via Curbside and H-E-B To You, the delivery times offered were at least four hours or more from the time of order.
At one store, an H-E-B partner who declined to give her name told us that Curbside service has been “incredibly popular,” especially with those who work long hours and are trying to find more time to spend with friends and family.
Curbside's convenience saves customers time throughout their day "without sacrificing the quality and value they've come to expect from H-E-B when feeding their loved ones,” she said.
Such services come at a time when the battle between grocers continues to heat up. Amazon entered the sector in June with its $13-billion purchase of Whole Foods, which has two stores in San Antonio. In August, Google announced a major partnership with Walmart to accept orders via voice commands using Google apps and devices, and deliver those products to users’ homes.
Aldi already is operating 40 stores in the Houston area, Killeen, and College Station. In September, developer CBRE announced that low-cost German grocer Lidl was coming to San Antonio’s far Northwest side next year. Lidl already operates 10,000 stores in 27 countries.
The new Lidl in San Antonio will reside in a planned retail development near the fast-growing intersection of Alamo Ranch Parkway and Lone Star Parkway.
H-E-B opened its newest San Antonio store on Nov. 10, also in Alamo Ranch. The 93,000-square-foot store features an optical shop as well as H-E-B Curbside, and is located in a zip code where delivery is available.
But Thanksgiving shoppers and cooks should plan ahead. H-E-B Curbside and home delivery will be available through 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Stores will be open limited hours, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Thanksgiving Day.