You might think about how much easier it would be to have your groceries delivered, not to mention the time it would save. As we continue navigating our “new normal” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing a delivery service option may, naturally, be a more appealing option than heading to the grocery store.
Aside from the reduced risk of getting sick, there are some advantages (and disadvantages) of shopping for groceries online via delivery service. Each of these may, or may not, have a significant impact depending on your individual family's shopping habits and location.
Advantages of Grocery Delivery Services
Grocery delivery services offer patrons the ability to order their groceries from home and have them delivered straight to their door. As you consider whether or not this service may be beneficial for you, here are some additional advantages they can offer.
1. Reduction of Impulse Buys
How many times have you been browsing through an aisle, seen a snack or dessert and decided to buy it? If you are searching online, the temptation to meander through the store is no longer there. While services may still push sales or promote certain products on their homepage, ordering online can help cut down on impulse buys. For some families, simply cutting back on this urge may recoup delivery fees and then some!
2. Save on Gas
If you live in a rural area or the drive to your local grocery store is fairly far, using a delivery service can help save some money. Depending on the distance you must drive and the frequency of your visits to the store, the savings on gas could help offset the price you pay for delivery. Take note of how much you’re spending on gas the next time you visit the store and use that amount to determine how much a delivery service may be helping you save.
3. Easily Browse Deals and Specials
When you head to the store, you typically have to walk around the aisles to see what items are on sale. When you shop for your groceries online, some services will lump all the sale or discounted items together on the homepage or in a separate category. While this can be tempting for some impulse buying, it also is a great way to stock up on your favorites while they’re on sale. Another cost-saving mechanism to offset the delivery fees?
4. Save on Time
Our most valuable commodity. For some busy families, grocery shopping may mean cutting out of work an hour early to pick things up before the kids get home. If used wisely, maybe getting this hour back in your work week has financial benefits? Maybe saving time on the weekends can help you tackle a house project or spend more time with your family. Either way, the time is yours to use....either for work or leisure. Getting this time back means a lot for families with time constraints.
5. Track Your Spending
Too many times you go into a grocery store, only to spend a lot more than you thought you would. With online shopping, you can keep a running tally of how much you’re spending before you checkout. This makes it much easier to stay within budget and remove items if you need to.
Disadvantages of Grocery Delivery Services
Grocery delivery services are convenient and easy to use, but there may be times in which you’re better off heading to the store yourself.
1. Delivery Fees and Convenience Surcharges
Obviously this varies by service, but $10? Higher item costs than you would find at the store? One or both of these may be true depending on your provider. It might simply be hard to know if the online price matches the price in the store or how your particular store or service is benefiting from offering this premium service. As the popularity of grocery delivery increases, we suspect changes to this model. Simple supply and demand curves will impact price and this should be no exception! You likely pay a premium...but how much that premium is may be hard to calculate.
2. Lack of Choice For Meat or Produce
This is a big hindrance for people who like to pick out their own produce or meat cuts, as your personal shopper will be doing this for you. If you prefer to be selective when choosing your produce or meat, you may want to head to the store for these items.
3. Substitutions May Be Made
In most cases, you can let the delivery service know if you don’t want substitutions in your order. That means that if an item is out of stock, you won’t get a replacement or substitution in its place. If you do allow for substitutions, you’ll get a similar item but not exactly what you ordered.
4. Delivery Times May Be Unavailable
If you’re expecting same-day delivery, it’s likely you’ll have to order early in the morning to get a slot. With many people social distancing, it’s not unheard of to have to wait several days even for an available delivery time.
5. If You Prefer Smaller Stores, They May Not Offer Delivery
If you like to shop locally, then a large grocery delivery option may not be the best for you. Most mom and pop shops won’t have delivery available, meaning you may be limited to larger chains.
If you're still not sure what will work best for your family's groceries, it may be worth giving delivery services a try and see if the convenience of delivery outweighs the cons. Remember, many grocery delivery services will offer your first delivery free, making it worth your time to give it a shot.