On a busy Sunday earlier this month, fresh snow on the ground, shoppers lined up outside the Hy-Vee at 51st and O to pick up their groceries without ever getting out of their cars.
Others stayed home altogether waiting for their groceries to show up at their doors.
While people have been able to use the Hy-Vee Aisles Online grocery store pickup and delivery services for five years now, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for it has quadrupled through the chain's eight-state region, including in Lincoln, according to Christina Gayman, director of public relations.
She said while stores have started to see an increase in customers shopping in person again compared to nearly a year ago, they also continue to see more customers shopping online and through their Aisles Online app.
"We really do think that the convenience and time savings of the service will equate to a long-term change for many customers," she said.
Gayman said she didn't have Lincoln numbers, but said companywide, Hy-Vee stores have hired more than 10,000 Aisles Online workers since the start of the pandemic last year.
Here's how it works. When someone places an order via the Aisles Online website or app, the order is sent to the store the customer designates. Aisles Online team member are Hy-Vee employees, and customers get updates on each step in the process.
While the order is filled, an Aisles Online shopper lets the customer know if an item isn't available. Customers can accept substitutions or add items.
Then, the order is bagged and put in totes and staged either at the store’s pickup area or delivered to the customer.
There's a $9.95 fee for delivery or two-hour express pickup.
Those costs, however, can be rolled into an annual membership. Gayman said they've had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Hy-Vee Plus program since it launched a couple of months ago.
With a $99 annual cost, customers get free standard delivery and two-hour express pickup, a potential big savings for customers shopping for groceries primarily online, she said. Members also get special exclusive offers and perks.
Gayman said over the past year stores have also added to their pharmacy drive-up services and prescription delivery. Now customers can do curbside pickup or, in some locations, have their prescriptions shipped to their home. They also offer "express pay," which allows customers to pay for their prescriptions in advance so they can quickly pick them up in the store or at the pharmacy drive-up.
"At Hy-Vee we believe that innovation is critical to sustaining success and growth," she said. "We innovate to elevate the customer experience whether a customer shops online or visits a Hy-Vee store."
IMAGES OF LINCOLN DURING THE PANDEMIC
Photos: The scene in Lincoln with much of city shut down
City Council distancing
Gameday empty Saturday
Thank you Bryan West
No fans allowed
Volleyball social distancing
Boo at the Zoo
Downtown mask art
Marching band competition
East Campus proposed budget cuts
No Football Saturday
UNL in-person class
Farmers Market influencers
Weeping Water vs. Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan
First day of middle school
First day of school
Pius X volleyball practice
City Council BLM protest
Rally and hearing
Lancaster County Super Fair
LPS board meeting
Meatpacking workers rally
Lincoln Northeast graduation
Gov. Ricketts address Legislature
Masked Archie the Mammoth
First Jury Trial in Four Months
Lincoln Community Playhouse
The Kindler Hotel
Garth Brooks Drive-In Concert
Urban Air Adventure Park
Gere Branch Library
Music on the Move
Bars Opening in Lincoln
LPS Teachers Retirement
Holmes Lake Manor Horse Visit
Lancaster County Courthouse
Church Social Distancing
Children of Smithfield
Parkview Christian Teacher Appreciation Day
Lincoln Christian 2020 Seniors
Test Nebraska site
Drive-Thru Career Fair
Center for People in Need food distribution
Masks For Truckers
Teacher and Staff Parade
Virtual City Council
Good Friday Music
Masks on a walk
Watch: A timelapse of the mural at Saro Cider
Watch: Hand sanitizer rolls off Innovation Campus assembly line
No fun here
Tower Square sign
WATCH: Celebrating a birthday with a parade
Simpsons in the windows
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
UNL Beekeeping virtual class
Lincoln Lutheran Online Teaching
Blue for public health
Basketball without fans
Thanksgiving to go
Socially distant Santa
Christmas tree demand
Basketball fans reduced
Mike Hilgers at Legislature's First Day
Zoo Bar membership
New high school
Biking in snow
Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @LJSpilger