It will soon be time to ditch that ticket waiting in line at the Publix deli.
Publix announced today it will launch online ordering for its deli at some of the Sarasota stores, and select stores will have in-store electronic kiosks to place orders for meats, cheeses and Publix subs.
"Our customers tell us they love Publix and love the products we provide, but they look for a way to get them quickly and easily," Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten told Patch.
Patten said she could not reveal whether or not Westchase or Citrus Park Publix stores would offer online deli ordering.
"At this time we are not revealing which specific stores will have this," she said, adding that a handful of stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg would be getting the online deli ordering feature.
The free feature will launch Aug. 3 at Lakeland's South Gate Shopping Center store, and will roll out to 50 additional stores — including some in Sarasota — by the end of this year, Patten said. No minimum purchase or order is necessary and customers will pay at the register with the rest of their groceries.
Whether it's on your laptop or smartphone, customers will visit www.publix.com/order to use the new feature. No smartphone app is offered.
“Publix Deli Online Easy Ordering is a natural extension of our service commitment, especially for our on-the-go customers,” said Maria Brous, Publix director of media and community relations.
Customers will be asked to provide an e-mail address and a phone number, Patten said. The e-mail address will be used to send a confirmation for the order, and the phone number is used to call for clarification, Patten said.
"Maybe there's a special instruction we don't understand or we may have to make a substitution for something that's unavailable and still move forward with their order," she said.
Select stores among those locations will also have the in-store touch-screen stations, she said.
"If they're in the store and do their weekly shopping, instead of taking a number, they will place the order right then and there, continue their shopping around the store and come back to the deli later," Patten said.
For both the online and in-store electronic ordering, customers will be provided with estimated pick-up times at the end of their order to give the deli an idea of when the food should be ready. The orders will then be placed in a designated area that says “Online Easy Pickup” for customers to swing by and pick up their order, she explained.
"If you want something for lunch, you don't haven't your order that far in advance thinking you'd have to pick it up Friday," she said. "You could do it right now and pick it up 15, 20 minutes later."
For subs, the system will guide customers to build their sandwiches in the made-to-order system, she said.
This in-store system will be familiar for snowbirds and transplants from the Mid-Atlantic, being similar to the system used by Carlisle, Pa.-based Martin's Food and Pharmacy, and Pennsylvania-based Sheetz gas stations, which revolutionized ordering food inside its stores in 1995 through its touch-screen Made-To-Order system becoming the first in the convenience store industry to do so.