Pros and Cons of Online Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping online using a smartphone.
Grocery shopping online using a smartphone. | Source

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's 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

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.

Benefits of Doing Your Grocery Shopping 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.

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?

  • Yes, it's so convenient.
  • Yes, but only when I've got a lot of heavy items
  • No, I like to go to a bricks and mortar supermarket
  • No, I like to support mom and pop stores
  • No, I won't buy anything on the internet
  • Undecided
See results without voting

Avoid the Shopping Crowds

Target, Black Friday
Target, Black Friday | 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.

Fresh fruit and vegetables weekly grocery order.
Fresh fruit and vegetables weekly grocery order. | Source

You Can 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.

The Internet Messenger: sculpture by Buky Schwartz
The Internet Messenger: sculpture by Buky Schwartz | Source

Shopping Halfway House

Some websites offer a kind of halfway house between online grocery shopping and in-store shopping. You use their site to get recipe ideas and to make a shopping list. The idea is that when you get to the store with this list, you can quickly pick the goods from the aisles as you have already browsed the stock online. The website will show rival supermarket’s seasonal items and offers to be found in-store, thus giving you the opportunity to save time and money.

Results of Consumer Survey about Online Shopping

In December 2011 Safe Home Products Inc. carried out a survey of US shoppers. They found that “the results were overwhelmingly in favor of online shopping because of convenience, value and variety.” Their survey asked consumers the following questions:

1. Do you choose online shopping for convenience? 96% said yes.

2. Do you choose online shopping for price? 80% said yes.

3. Do you choose online shopping for the ability to research your buying decision? 91% said yes.

4. Do you choose online shopping because products offered online can't be purchased locally? 77% said yes.

5. Is online shopping easier than shopping at a physical store? 89% said yes.

6. Do you plan to spend the less time shopping online as you do in person at the store? 78% said no, they will spend more time shopping online

7. Do you feel you get a better deal online compared to purchases at a retail store? 71% said yes.

How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online

When doing your grocery shopping online make sure that you shop in a safe manner. The video below is produced by the US federal government and covers the simple precautions you should take to prevent your personal details being stolen or used fraudulently. To get the best experience when shopping online they suggest that you set a budget so that you don’t overspend and only enter financial details online if you are confident that the website is using secure encryption processes.

More by this Author


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 2 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.

Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Beth Eaglescliffe 2 years ago from UK Author

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.

annart profile image

annart 2 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.

thebiologyofleah profile image

thebiologyofleah 2 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!

Vvitta profile image

Vvitta 2 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?

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article