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The Technovore: Go grocery shopping without leaving your couch

Online retail spreads to your fridge
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal City/Multimedia Editor
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We're back! The Technovore has taken a bit of a hiatus. You know how things get, life gets a little hectic, different priorities come up and things get shuffled around - kind of like home, right?

One of those home chores that Mr. and Mrs. Technovore never to seem to have time for it seems is grocery shopping. After a long day at the office, the last thing one wants is to have to buck up and go to the store.

Well the grocery store world hears you, and they've been offering a way to make it a little easier for the online set. If you like buying your books, movies, furniture and more from the ol' WWW, then one local grocer has got you covered.

Raley's has been offering consumers online grocery shopping since the early 2000s, and it seems its popularity is starting to gain ground.

On Lincoln Way, Raley's offers its ecart service, which was started in 2003, and came to Auburn in 2008. This program allows shoppers to sign up on online at www.raleys.com/ecart and then pick their store and then choose from more than 20,000 items. Consumers can even break down their selections to specific instructions, such as, "I want green bananas."

After you've chosen your desired products, a personal shopper then hand selects your order and you can choose a pick-up time that is convenient to get your grub (pick-up times are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) - all without leaving the comfort of your couch while watching "Game of Thrones." Once you get to the store, you can pull up to the designated ecart lane, push a button and your personal shopper will come out with your groceries, load them in your car, you pay for them and you're on your way.

"Online shopping continues to rise and grow in popularity among customers," said Raley's Spokesperson Ashley Zepernick. "We want to provide our customers with an easier and better shopping experience. By offering ecart, our customers save time by shopping online at their convenience."

In Auburn, the ecart gets pretty busy and continues to gain fans each day.

"I have used the ecart service for quite a few years, I tend to go through phases of using it," said Auburn resident Brodi Weatherbee, who was picking up her food Friday afternoon. "It's helpful and it works wonderfully when I think ahead and plan meals out, and it saves me time because I have young children. It's a challenge to take them shopping weekly."

Your first five tries with ecart are for free, and if you spend over $100 on your groceries, your order is free, otherwise it's $4.95 per order. You can also use any coupons online that are accepted in the store and you can pay with cash, credit, debit or check.

"I can just tell you that since 2008, compared to now, definitely (there's been an increase in use). It's one of those things that good news travels fast," said Mario Trejo, store director for Raley's on Lincoln Way. "A lot have responded (to our survey) that they would definitely refer the service to a friend. So that's good news."

Another grocer with stores in the Sacramento area, Safeway offers a similar program, but does not offer the program currently in Auburn.

More mobile surfing
Have you noticed that it's been a little easier to download that favorite YouTube video on your smartphone lately in Foresthill? Or downloading that movie on your iPad doesn't take as long? Well if you're an AT&T customer you can thank its new Internet cell site that was put up, allowing for better Web surfing, quicker downloads and the ability to use applications.

The new cell site offers improved coverage and capacity along Foresthill Road from Todd Valley Road toward Sugar Pine Road.

"Mobile data usage on smartphones and tablets continues to skyrocket, combined with the rising need for better and faster mobile broadband connectivity," said Terry Stenzel, AT&T's vice president and general manager for Northern California/Northern Nevada in a statement. "AT&T is making sure people can surf the mobile Internet, access their favorite apps, and stream audio and video on their smartphones and tablets in more places across Placer County and in Foresthill. We're always looking for new opportunities to expand the network for consumers and small businesses."

Suddenlink provider offers 50-meg Internet service in Auburn
Suddenlink now offers its High Speed Internet MAX 50.0 service in Auburn, featuring a download speed of up to 50 megabits per second (mbps), the fastest residential service in the area according to Suddenlink.

To learn more about Suddenlink services visit their website at www.suddenlink.com.

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Have some local tech news, tips? Let City/Multimedia Editor Andrew DiLuccia know at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com, or send him a tweet at @TheTechnovore.