I’m back today with another review of a more convenient option for grocery shopping- Harris Teeter’s ExpressLane. If you missed my review of Amazon Prime Now, Amazon’s grocery delivery service, then you can find it here.
Harris Teeter is huge here in Charlotte and many of my clients shop there. Given that many of us struggle with finding enough hours in the day to get things done, I wanted to try out Harris Teeter’s online grocery shopping system to see if it made life any easier.
Harris Teeter’s ExpressLane
Using Harris Teeter’s ExpressLane starts with placing your order online. You can create an account either order from your computer or from the Harris Teeter app. You can even connect your account to your Harris Teeter rewards card so that you can apply sale prices to your purchases. The website lets you easily search the sale ad.
I found that building my grocery list for ExpressLane was pretty simple and intuitive. The Harris Teeter website has a search bar if you just want to type in the name of what you’re looking for, or you can search by category. It seems like shoppers have access to mostly everything that’s carried in the store, meaning you can browse different brands and sizes of each item.
One thing I wanted to point out is that you have full access to all of Harris Teeter’s fresh produce, meat and deli meats. This is a huge plus compared to some other online grocery ordering systems, which seem to have limited access to things that are not dry goods.
When you’re ordering each item, you can create a note for the Harris Teeter employee if you’re okay with them substituting items. I would highly recommend this for items where you’re specifying a specific flavor just in case they’re out of stock of the one you want. I am a little unclear about when they will actually substitute something. I ordered a bigger container of plain yogurt once, and they substituted it with a 4-pack of the single-serve yogurts. But this past time, they were out of the specific flavor of Triscuits that I ordered and they did not sub that item.
There is also a box you can check if you don’t want substitutions at all.
Pick-Up Options – How it Works
Once you’ve entered everything for your order on the site, you can select your pick-up day and time. They do offer same day pick-up, and have to order your items at least 4 hours in advance in order to be able to select this. You can also place you order several days in advance if that works better for you, but you will receive the sale prices for the day you pick up (not the day you order). Their website says you can also use coupons – just bring them with you when you go to pick up your order.
There is a $4.95 service fee per order, or you can pay for a monthly subscription for $16.96 or a yearly subscription for $99.95.
I have never used the Harris Teeter delivery option but by doing a quick search on their website, it looks like one of the Harris Teeters closest to me offers this as an option. In addition to the $4.95 service fee, delivery fees range between $11.95 and $15.00 per order. I played around with my own cart and there was a $15 fee added to my $50 worth of groceries in my cart. This brought the total fee up to $19.95.
This is how pick-ups work based on my experience. You select your desired pick-up time, and an employee will call you beforehand to let you know about any substitutions they had to make and to tell you that your order is ready. I have had 1-2 substitutions or canceled items each time.
Once your order is ready, you can go to the store and pull up to the ExpressLane parking spot. There is a little call button set up there, which connects you to a Harris Teeter employee. They will ask for your name and then bring your order out to you car. You don’t even have to get out of the car- they will put everything in there for you, and then you can swipe your card on their mobile card reader.
Organization of Items
Grocery items are separated into dry goods, refrigerated items and then freezer items. FYI- they do not offer any sort of refrigerator or freezer packs in the bags. You receive the groceries just like you would if you were shopping yourself.
Cons of Harris Teeter Express Lane
I have used Harris Teeter Express Lane for pick-up three times now, and I’ve tried it at 2 different stores in Charlotte on both the weekend and a weekday. This is just my honest experience… if you’ve had a different experience then please leave me a comment below and let me know about it!
Out of Stock items
Sometimes substitutions and out of stock items are minor, but other times they have been some of our larger items. This is unfortunate because you don’t find out about it until the order is ready for pick-up. I personally felt it would be much better if I knew up front what was out of stock so that I could adjust my grocery order (and meal planning) accordingly.
For example, one time they were completely out of rotisserie chicken, which is what B uses to make a lot of his lunches for the week. Had we known they were going to be out, we probably would not have placed an order that day, or we would have selected a different store.
Another time, Spindrifts were on sale BOGO free and we tried to stock up on 5 cases. They ended up being completely out of stock of all flavors. That’s an item that we pretty much exclusively buy on sale, so we went to a different Harris Teeter after we picked up our order and purchased all 5 cases there.
I’m sure that dealing with out of stock items in their computer system is tricky when people are also purchasing items in the store at the same time. So I understand that there may not be a solution to this- but it’s still a bit inconvenient depending on the item.
I’ve done 3 pick-ups now and I’ve yet to experience the “express” part of Express Lane.
For my first ever pick-up, the Harris Teeter parking lot was a complete nightmare of cars (thanks, Charlotte) and I could not find the pick-up spot. I ended up just finding a parking spot and going inside to get my order. Then I had to wait for an employee to get the order and bring it to me, which seemed to take a while.
The second time I picked up the order, B was with me. There was no one in the pick-up spot but the wait time between notifying the employee that we were there for pick-up and them actually bringing the delivery out to our car seemed excessive. By the time our groceries were brought out to our car, we could have just gone inside and purchased them.
The third time I did a pickup, there was a car in the pick-up parking spot. I patiently waited in the parking spot adjacent to the ExpressLane spot until it became vacant. While I was waiting, I noticed an employee come outside and ask the car in the ExpressLane spot to pull up to beside building.
Once the space was open, I decided against moving my car and instead got out of my car and hit the call button. Moving my car seemed like a pain in the @$$. After standing there for a while with no one answering, I got back in my car to move into the spot. As I was backing out of my spot, another car pulled into the spot to pick up their groceries. The person saw that I was waiting and actually told 2 different Harris Teeter employees that I was ahead of her and had been unable to get in the spot, but the Harris Teeter employees ended up helping her first.
I ended up waiting for about 20 minutes for my groceries.
It seems like a better way to do pick-up for Harris Teeter would be to have a line rather than 1 designated spot. Asking someone in a spot to back out and pull over to a different part of the building seems to take away a bit of the convenience factor.
Waiting a while for pick-up is a huge con for me because I’m just using a service like this to save time. I don’t actually mind going into the store. So if it is not actually saving me time then it’s not worth the trouble to me. Especially if there’s an added fee.
Pros of Harris Teeter Express Lane
Despite my experiences with pick-up, I know there are some situations where not having to go into the store at all would be a godsend. I remember when I hurt my ankle and had to ride that freaking scooter around- I wish I could have had groceries brought out to my car then! Many of my clients with small children also have a hard time getting their kids in and out of the car, and they say their kids have meltdowns in the grocery store. So I can see how having a pick-up, even with a slower wait time, would be very convenient for them.
I’m also only in a household of 2 people and with B’s work dinner and travel schedule, many of the times I’m just grocery shopping for me. My grocery trips are therefore pretty small. But I could see how waiting even 20 minutes to pick up groceries could be a big time saver compared to doing a large grocery trip.
Also, I know some people don’t mind waiting in their car and it’s a little bit of a quiet time for them!
Being able to shop from everything that Harris Teeter has in the store is a huge plus. You can do all of your shopping in one place. This is one thing where Harris Teeter ExpressLane really excels compared to other grocery shopping options that only offer a limited variety.
Ability to Save Lists
Within your HT account, you can access your previous grocery orders and even create a list to be used for orders. This is super convenient for grocery staples or items that you purchase frequently. I actually encourage all of my clients to create a list of “staple” grocery items. Having these saved online can definitely simplify the grocery shopping process.
Good Quality Produce
I was a little worried about ordering fresh produce because I’m super picky about picking out fresh fruits and vegetables. But I’ve included them in each order and I’ve been very happy with the ripeness and overall quality of the products.
Is Harris Teeter ExpressLane right for you?
As someone who constantly feels short on time and stressed out, I will be honest in saying that I did not think ExpressLane is a good fit for me. By the time I entered my groceries online and waited around for them to be brought out to my car, it would have been faster for me to just go into the store.
Having said that, I could see so many situations where the Harris Teeter ExpressLane could be a great grocery shopping option. If you dislike actually going inside the grocery store or maybe you have another factor making the physical act of grocery shopping difficult, then this would be a great option for you. If you’re doing a huge grocery shopping trip that would take a long time then I could see how this would simplify the process.
I hope you enjoyed this review- have a great day!
Do you use ExpressLane or something similar?
Any pros/cons that I left out?