Pros and Cons of Online Shopping for Groceries

Updated on August 4, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

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

E-shopping means goods ordered online are delivered direct to your home or local collection point.
E-shopping means goods ordered online are delivered direct to your home or local collection point. | Source

5 Reasons to Shop For Groceries Online

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

Can Online Grocery Shopping Really Save You Money?

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.

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

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. You can avoid excessive delivery charges by booking early and planning your shopping spend weeks ahead.

The Rise of Online Food Delivery

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

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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 Vs. Instacart: Which Grocery Store Delivery Is Better?

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.

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.

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. | Source

Can E-Shopping Help Local Producers?

Grocery stores only make a profit on online shopping if they minimise overheads. Most of them do this by having centralized warehouses and distribution systems. This means they buy from large-scale farms and factories that can deliver lower per-unit costs.

Demand for locally produced food is growing and so some supermarkets are changing their policies to include small producers. However, there is a cost to this and many consumers are unwilling or unable to pay more for their food. There is also the question of how to define "local". Some people say it should me no more than 30 miles from the point of retail sale, while others consider "local" to include producers state-wide.

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.


Submit a Comment
  • HoneyBB profile image

    H Lax 

    2 years ago

    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

    Kalaichelvi Panchalingam 

    5 years ago from PETALING JAYA

    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 

    5 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 

    5 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.

  • Dee aka Nonna profile image

    Dee aka Nonna 

    5 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.


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