Fans of deli sandwiches at Publix will soon have a faster way to get their food and avoid lines, as the store is launching an online site allowing people to place orders in advance.
The system has been under development for months within Publix, and a pilot project just started at a location near company headquarters in Lakeland.
Publix plans to formally announce the service today.
The service is free and should start at several stores in the Tampa area within a few months and at 50 more stores within a year.
With the service, customers go to a special site online or with their mobile phones, www.publix.com/order, and can custom-order subs, wraps and sliced meats and cheeses - and specify their bread type, toppings and a pickup time.
Orders will be held in a designated spot in the deli department and identified with "Online Easy Pickup" signs.
There is no minimum order size, and customers pay for their order at the store.
Before this, customers could phone or fax in their orders, so this adds another option.
To an extent, the new service helps Publix catch up and compete with fast food chains such as Chipotle that have had online ordering and smart phone apps for more than a year.
"This is a natural extension of our service commitment, especially for our on-the-go customers," said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten.