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The Pros and Cons of Online Grocery Shopping

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Ordering online can give you all the choice with none of the hassle.

Ordering online can give you all the choice with none of the hassle.

Online Grocery Delivery: Is It Worth It?

Online grocery shopping is more popular than ever, which isn't a surprise given the rise of convenience-based apps and the gig economy. But is shopping for food online all it's made out to be? Like anything else, you must decide for yourself whether the pros outweigh the cons. Some of the features of online grocery delivery are as follows.

  1. You can order your groceries anytime, 24/7
  2. Delivery is to your kitchen or local mall locker
  3. Can choose a 1 or 2 hour time-slot for convenience
  4. Stores send best quality and freshness to minimise complaints
  5. You can avoid the hassle of crowds, and parking queues
  6. Get the best prices; browse offers online at your leisure

Food Shopping Via the Internet

Pros: The big advantage of ordering groceries online is that you can browse the virtual shopping aisles 24/7 without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Many sites have online chat facilities that allow you to interact with a real person so that you can sort out any ordering problems immediately. I use this food shopping app to help me get the best online experience.

Cons: Some grocery store websites are poorly designed, and finding a specific item is not always easy. However, stores are responding to consumer feedback and websites are improving.

Home Delivery

Pros: Most online grocery stores offer either same day delivery, or a choice of one or two hour next-day delivery slots. This is great for busy people who don't want to have to stay in for hours waiting for a delivery.

Cons: Convenience comes at a price. Demand for home delivery, and click-and-collect has rocketed. The pandemic has made more of us reluctant to do our grocery shopping in person. Stores have been quick to take advantage and delivery charges have risen substantially. A few still offer free delivery, but the quid pro quo is a large minimum order size.

Buying groceries via the internet means you can avoid queues.

Buying groceries via the internet means you can avoid queues.

Pickup and Delivery Slots

Pros: Online ordering usually gives you options of either home delivery, mall locker, or click-and-collect store collection. Most stores specify a two-hour time slot for your grocery delivery or collection; some may narrow it down to just one hour. This makes the service very convenient. With an 18-hour delivery window to choose from, seven days a week, you can easily fit your grocery shopping around your other commitments.

Cons: Delivery charges may be higher for the more popular delivery slots, for example on a Friday or Saturday. For major public holidays like Christmas or New Year, delivery slots can get booked up several months in advance. You can avoid excessive delivery charges by booking early and planning your shopping spend weeks ahead.

No Queuing or Parking Hassles

Pros: Shopping online means no queuing at the checkout to pay, no parking hassles as you search for a space in the shopping mall car park, and no negotiating the in-store crowds if you have to shop at peak times.

Cons: Internet shopping minimizes human contact with store staff or other customers. You may prefer this, but for others this will increase feelings of isolation.

Product Selection

Pros: No store wants unhappy customers complaining about having received poor quality goods; that means extra work for their customer complaints department. They therefore aim to only send the freshest produce out on the home delivery orders. A reputable store will give a guarantee that if you are not satisfied with your delivery, then they will give you a refund.

Cons: Someone else choosing the fresh items for you (such as meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables) will never seem as good as if you had personally picked out the best in store yourself.

Costs, Savings, and Product Prices

Pros: Shopping online means that you have saved spending money on gas and parking charges. You will have time to browse all the special offers as you put your grocery order together. You may wish to check the price of big-value items on a comparison grocery shopping website. The comparison sites monitor online and offline grocery prices. They can save you the effort of visiting all the individual grocery sites yourself.

Cons: Popular offers may sell out before your allotted delivery time. Even though the supermarket will bring you a substitute item, it may not be appropriate, which can lead to disappointment.

Online Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Why Are Food Stores Going Online?

There's been a major shift by consumers to online shopping over the last 10 years, and this has accelerated during the last 2 years. Customers value convenience over price, and are willing to pay extra for home delivery. Ordering online has become a quick and easy way to shop. Click-and-collect food orders, and secure refrigerated lockers are the shopping channels of the future.

COVID-19 has had an impact on our shopping habits. Before coronavirus, only about 7% of people in Western countries did their food shopping online. When the virus struck, for a short period stores were expected to deliver to more than 90% of homes. A shortage of delivery staff and vehicles caused service levels to fall, but the situation has now improved. More people are shopping instore once more, and stores have recruited more drivers and pickers. So the reliability and availability of home delivery slots is almost back to normal.

Is It More Expensive to Food Shop Online?

Not necessarily. Like any kind of shopping, prices depend on supply and demand. If you live in an area with lots of competing stores, then your online food shop need be no more expensive than an in-store trip.

With so many people having to self-isolate during the pandemic, demand for home deliveries outstripped availability in many places. This led to a steep rise in delivery charges. However, as more staff are being employed by stores, such charges are falling. In the last few weeks, I have received emails from several food stores offering me home delivery and click-and-collect store collection at no additional cost.

Is Online Food Shopping Good or Bad?

There's little doubt that online shopping is a growing trend. The convenience of being able to shop from home 24/7 is a no-brainer for me. However some people will always be worried about the quality and freshness of the food to be delivered. Whether online grocery shopping is a good or a bad thing is a value judgement, and a personal decision. Only you can decide whether the benefit of ordering via the internet is worth more to you than any potential downsides of shopping this way.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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