Pros and Cons of Online Grocery Shopping

Updated on April 5, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I write about employment issues, ways to earn money and how to get best value when spending it.

Grocery shopping online is easy and convenient.
Grocery shopping online is easy and convenient. | Source

More and More People are E-Shopping

Online shopping is a growing trend. It's convenient and can be fitted around busy lives. However when it comes to grocery shopping in particular, there is a nagging worry for some people about the quality and freshness of the food that will be delivered. This article gives the pros and cons of doing your grocery shopping online. It should help you decide if online grocery shopping is the right choice for you.

Why Order Groceries Online?

Anytime 24/7
Some websites badly designed
Convenient 2 hour time-slot
High cost for popular time-slots
Quality and Freshness
Stores try to send best quality
Not always to your own high standard
Avoids crowds and queues
No social interaction
Able to browse offers
Popular offers may be unavailable

Shop Using 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 an online assistant that is able to give automated answers to the most common problems. The very best grocery websites also have online chat facilities that allow you to interact with a real person so that you can sort out any ordering problems immediately.

Cons: You need to feel confident about navigating online. Some grocery store websites are poorly designed and searching for a specific item is not always easy. Having said that, the stores are responding to consumer feedback and improvements are being made to their websites all the time.

U.S. online grocery sales amounted to about 14.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 and are expected to rise to nearly 30 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.


Benefits of Buying Groceries Online

Pros: Online ordering usually gives you the option of having either home delivery or store collection. Most stores give you 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.

Online Grocery Shopping With Walmart

No More 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: Grocery shopping via the web is a virtually anonymous activity. You have no human contact with store staff or other customers. Nor can you have any accidental meetings with old friends or love-at- first-sight encounters over a shopping trolley.

Online Grocery Shopping

Are you happy to do your grocery shopping online?

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Shopping online gives you all the choice of a physical store, but without the kids in tow.
Shopping online gives you all the choice of a physical store, but without the kids in tow. | Source

Freshness and Quality of Food Assured

Pros: The last thing that a grocery store wants is dissatisfied customers complaining about having received poor quality goods. This makes a lot of extra and unnecessary work for their customer complaints department. It is therefore good practice for them to only send the freshest produce out on the home delivery orders. A reputable store will give a guarantee that if you are not happy with your delivery then they will give you a refund.

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

Amazon Fresh Offers Convenient Delivery

While younger adults are driving the change, the online food business transcends generations.

Seniors and those who can't navigate store aisles so well anymore are adopting online grocery shopping.

— Sendiks Food Markets' executive quoted in USA Today

Save Money With Home Grocery Delivery

Pros: Shopping online means that you have saved spending 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. They plot the prices of the most popular branded grocery items and their prices should never be more than 24 hours old. They have a team of price checkers who visit the physical stores as well as monitor the online grocery website prices. It 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 shopping can help you save money.
Online shopping can help you save money. | Source

Consumer Survey about Online Shopping

An online survey of US shoppers in June 2016 by (sample size 1,995) found online shopping is liked because of its convenience, value and variety.

Respondents were asked to choose attributes from the list below that make a food product a good fit for online shopping. They could select more than one option.

  • Long life/ non-perishable? 49% agreed.
  • Difficult to find in stores? 48% agreed.
  • Easy to ship? 39% agreed.
  • Don’t need them right away? 32% agreed.
  • Things I like to stock up on? 31% agreed.
  • I purchase these products on a routine basis? 15% agreed.
  • Not essential for my meal planning? 14% agreed.
  • Heavy/ large? 12% agreed.
  • Need them right away? 7% agreed.
  • Other? 2% agreed.
  • None. Food products are not a good fit for online shopping? 22% agreed.

How Quickly Are Online Retail Grocery Sales Growing?

A survey by Mintel (retail analysts) showed that UK online retail sales have more than doubled in the last five years. In 2017, 48% of Brits did at least some of their grocery shopping online. Online food sales now account for about 24% of the whole grocery market.

It is a similar story in North America. The US Food Marketing Institute reports that in 2017 43% of millennials (young people) shopped online for groceries at least occasionally. This is a 50% increase over a year ago. The convenience of online grocery shopping is proving to be a hit with time-pressed consumers.

Fresh fruit and veg, canned and dried foods, can all be included in an online order.
Fresh fruit and veg, canned and dried foods, can all be included in an online order. | Source

How to Stay Safe When Shopping Via The Internet

When doing your grocery shopping online make sure that you shop in a safe manner. The video below covers some simple precautions you should take to prevent your personal details being stolen or used fraudulently.

To get the best experience when shopping online set a budget so that you don’t overspend. Only enter financial details online if you're confident that the website is using secure encryption processes. Look out for the padlock symbol and the 's' (for security) in https in the URL website address. And finally, always use your common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Online Shopping Safety Tips


Submit a Comment

  • HoneyBB profile image

    Helen Laxner 13 months ago from Illinois

    Good advice for online shoppers to know what to expect and what to watch out for when shopping for groceries online. I recently did my grocery shopping online and I did encounter one of the problems you mentioned but it was still an overall good experience and I will be doing most of my grocery online from now on. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons.

  • Vvitta profile image

    Kalai 3 years ago from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

    I do shop online for groceries but only for the dry goods. When it comes to my fresh proteins, vegetables and fruit, I prefer the local wet market where I can personally choose each fruit, each vegetable and each tomato for the perfect one. Am I weird?

  • thebiologyofleah profile image

    Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    I have been toying with the idea of trying online grocery shopping. Although I like to pick out my own fruits and veggies, as well as see what new items are there, I often question my faith in humanity while at the supermarket (people are rude, in a hurry, practically run you over to get their items). Thanks for sharing the pros and cons, useful information!

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

    Love the Internet Messenger sculpture! I do some online shopping but not for my groceries though I do find that supermarkets become a bit of a battle ground with trollies sometimes so I'm tempted.

    It's also too easy to buy more items than you need when they're set out in front of you!

    I live close to several supermarkets and many town shops so it's easy for me; however, if I lived out of town I might consider online grocery shopping more seriously. This is a really useful hub with good advice.

  • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

    Beth Eaglescliffe 4 years ago from UK

    Online shopping doesn’t suit everyone. Personally I love the convenience of shopping online, but I miss the social contact that is a part of in-store shopping.

    Thanks for the vote up.

  • Dee aka Nonna profile image

    Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

    I'm not sure I want to go there yet. As much as I hate shopping, of any kind, buying groceries online is one I will have to think about a little longer. I do like the fact that you listed the pros and the cons.... the pros make sense......but....... Anyway, thanks for the article. It truly is something to consider. And, I can see it benefits many people. Voted up, useful, and interesting.