For years, we’ve all enjoyed shopping online for household essentials, clothes and other things we need. However, most of us still had to make the weekly pilgrimage to our local grocery store to buy food. But that’s all changed. Now, you can order your groceries online and get them delivered or stop by your store and pick them up; never setting foot in the store.
Online grocery shopping is becoming increasingly popular. In 2017, U.S. online grocery sales were about 14.2 billion and are expected to top to close to 30 billion by 2021 (source). That’s a lot of online shopping!!!
While convenient, you may be reluctant to use one of these services. You may have questions such as is the produce fresh when someone else shops for you and will you get the products you want. However, the one question most people ask is it cheaper to buy groceries online?
WHY SHOP FOR GROCERIES ONLINE?
We live in an age where our lives are digitally connected. We use our phones to take pictures, connect with family and friends and even work. It just makes sense that buying groceries online would be an option too. But, if you are new to this type of shopping, you probably wonder if it is all it’s cracked up to be. You need to weigh everything before you decide if it is a fit for you.
HOW ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING WORKS
If you can click, you can shop online! Before you start, make your shopping list, just as you would if you were shopping at the grocery store. That way, you won’t forget anything you need.
Log into your store’s website and online shopping cart feature. Add everything you want to your shopping cart. Make sure you include specific notes such as “we like bananas a bit green” or “make sure the milk has an expiration date of at least two weeks.”
As you get to checkout you can indicate a pickup or delivery time for your groceries (as may be available). Then, you swing by the store at that designated time (or once you get your text). If they deliver, they will arrive within the time window you signed up for on the website.
PROS TO ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING
Unless you like spending an hour, or more, at the grocery store each week, you will love the time it saves. No more loading the kids into the car and driving to the store. Instead, you get to spend that time doing what you love.
You can shop when you have the time. Add a few items to your cart and continue about your day. When you shop online, you have access to your cart 24/7.
Get everything you need
There is nothing worse than getting to the store and wondering if you need sugar. Walk to your kitchen and look in your pantry to find out!
Shop when you want
You won’t have to carve time out of your schedule to get to the store. You can start your shopping list on Monday and continue adding items all week. Then, on Friday afternoon, send off your order.
Saves you money
All too often, items that aren’t on our shopping list tend to find their way into our shopping cart. You can’t impulse shop when buying online. Instead, you get only the things you need, which can save you a LOT of money.
Set up delivery or pickup when it works for you
If your grocery service delivers, you can choose a window of time when they will bring it to you – and put it on your kitchen counter. Or, if you have to pick it up, you can let them know the time when you will be ready, and you can pick it up. Groceries on your schedule.
No crowds or long lines
If you have shopped at your store on Saturday morning, you’ve probably seen (and been a part of) the long shopping lines. When you grocery shop online, you can avoid all of that.
You can do a quick search for the product you need and see the different brands and options, as well as prices. No more standing in the store trying to determine which is the best one that fits into your budget.
CONS TO GROCERY SHOPPING ONLINE
Someone else picks your produce
In most cases, stores send quality produce. But, there can be instances where they do not. To ensure you get the fruits and vegetables you like, include details in the notes section of your order. You can say you like green peppers with four bumps rather than three or green bananas. The more specific you can be as to your veggies and fruit needs, the more likely you’ll be happy with the purchase.
Items may sell out
If you want an item that is popular (due to a low price or sale), there is a chance it may sell out before someone can pick it up for you. Some stores may offer you a replacement item and send a text letting you know so that you can tell them yes or no. Other services ask you if it is OK to replace items with another brand, to which you can answer yes or no.
They may miss items
We are all human and mistakes can happen. The person shopping may overlook an item on your list, meaning it won’t be in your bag (but you also will not be charged for it either).
You don’t get the store experience
Some people love to spend time pushing a cart through the aisles of the grocery store. It may also be your weekly “get away” that you need each week. If you like the store experience, then online shopping may not work for you.
You may need to pay for convenience
Some services have delivery fees attached to their services. Others may waive the fee if you meet a spending threshold. These fees can add up over the course of a year. In that case, it may be better to do in-store pick-up instead of paying for someone to bring them to you.
Not every product is available online
Some stores may not list every product they sell in their online store. That means you may need to make a trip to get that item yourself or may need to find a substitute product.
Can’t always use coupons
Since you are paying online, you can’t redeem your coupons. Some retailers may offer digital coupons you can use, but these are rare. If you want to use coupons, you have no choice but to shop in the store.
ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING SITES
More and more grocery stores are starting to offer online grocery shopping to consumers. You will need to check your local store’s website to know if they offer this service or not. But, here are some of the larger chains who do.
Walmart offers online grocery shopping in most areas (you will need to check to see if it is available at your store). You can drive up and park in the designated area, and they will bring your groceries to you. One reason to love this option is you can not only get their every day low prices on food; it is one-stop shopping. You can get paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent – everything you need in one place.
Once you sign up, you will have access to a referral code that you can share with family and friends. If they sign up using your link, you will get $10 off your next purchase!
Shop now and use the code WOWFRESH to save $10 off your first $50 purchase.
Purchase minimum? $30
Delivery available? No
HyVee also offers online shopping. You can specify a date and one hour window for delivery of your items, or you can stop by the store to pick them up. There may be a delivery fee, depending on the amount you purchase.
Purchase minimum? No
Delivery available? Yes, but there may be fees applied.
Many grocery stores across the country have signed up with InstaCart to offer online grocery shopping and delivery to their customers. There is no membership fee to join, but you will pay delivery charges. But, when you sign up HERE, you will get free delivery on your very first order!!
InstaCart also offers a referral program. You can offer a $10 discount code to your family and friends and when they buy for the first time, you’ll be rewarded with $10 off of your next order as well.
One unique feature about InstaCart is the ability to use coupons! They offer all sorts of digital coupons you can click to activate so you can save on your purchase. It is one of the few ways to use coupons when you grocery shop online.
InstaCart has many stores who offer this service, some of which include:
- Price Chopper (KS/MO/IA)
- Price Chopper (East Coast)
Keep in mind that delivery is not yet available in all locations, so you will need to check with your local store to see if is available near you.
Another service that many stores use is Shipt. You can find stores such as Target, Meijer and more, available in more than 70 cities across the country.
Shipt is a membership site. Your membership covers delivery from all stores available in your delivery area. You can sign up for a free two-week trial and then will continue with the annual membership fee of $99. Delivery is free when you spend $35 or more or $7 if your total is less than that amount.
Some of the stores currently offering Shipt include:
- Western Market
To find out if other stores are in your area, enter your zip code on the home screen. You’ll see all of the stores currently working with Shipt for online grocery shopping.
Minimum purchase? No
Delivery available? Yes, but there may be fees.
Amazon offers delivery of fresh foods to Prime Members who reside in select cities. They offer a wide selection of fresh groceries, so you can conveniently shop from home.
Members pay a monthly fee of $14.99 for the convenience of either same-day delivery or overnight drop off. Best of all, since Amazon now owns Whole Foods, you can find natural and organic items on Amazon Fresh as well!
Minimum purchase? No
Delivery available? Yes (included in monthly fee)
HOW MY FAMILY SAVES MONEY ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING
Now that you understand the ins and outs of grocery shopping from home, I want to fill you in on what our family does. In the past, I have always shopped at my local store, and most weeks, I still do. The reason I shop at the store is that I always want to make sure I don’t forget anything that may not have been on my list. You know, when you walk by something and say “Oh – yeah! I forgot to put this on my list!”
But, I also use online shopping as well. I live near HyVee and Price Chopper. I’ve used both HyVee aisles online and Price Chopper through InstaCart. Most of the time it is when I have a busy weekend lined up and can’t get to the store. No matter which store I’ve shopped at, there is one thing I’ve noticed – I always spend less.
When I sit at home and click to add items to the cart, that is all I buy. There are no impulse purchases. It’s impossible. That alone easily saves us money every time we shop. Even when I have to pay delivery charges, I spend less!! On average, I save $30 – $50 every week. That is more than $100 savings every month – just on food!
For our family, online grocery shopping savings can easily top more than $1,000 a year. That is money we can use to save for our next family vacation or add to our emergency fund. It just makes sense for us.
Online grocery shopping has changed the way we shop. But, that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Only you can decide if it is better for you or not. However, you too may quickly see significant savings on the amount you need for your grocery budget.