The latest shopping option at Kroger: Submit your order online, a Kroger “picker” will pull your items from the shelves, and they’ll be loaded in your car when you pull up at a special drive-up lane outside the store.

Kroger unveiled the new online ordering service Monday at its Carmel store at Carmel Drive and Rangeline Road.

The option is meant to appeal to time-pressed shoppers.

The Cincinnati chain hopes to expand the service to other Indianapolis-area stores, depending on how popular it proves to be at the Carmel store.

Only one other Kroger store in the country, in Cincinnati, offers the online service, said Kroger spokesman John Elliott. “Ultimately, this is about customer convenience. That’s the primary measure.”

Kroger charges an extra $4.95 for online orders, which customers can place at www.kroger.com/onlineshopping. The fee is waived for the first three orders for new online customers.

If the demand for the service grows, every store that offers it could hire 30 to 60 extra employees just to work as pickers, Elliott said.

Pickers use wrist-worn computer devices to track each order. After submitting their online order, customers choose among several pickup times to drive by the store to get their order.

Last year, Kroger bought the Harris-Teeter grocery chain that was an innovator in online ordering. “So we have some really solid learnings from their experience,” Elliott said.

So far, Kroger’s online ordering is available on smart phones with Internet access. It can’t be done yet using the Kroger app.

Payment is made in the drive-up lane using credit or debit cards or cash. Pharmacy prescriptions aren’t included in the program

Kroger’s Central Division president, Jeff Burt, said the chain has “strong praise from customers” for the online service.

“We will proceed carefully with the rollout in this region, including likely expansion to additional stores,” he said.

Source: Indianapolis Star