3 Reasons Why Buying Groceries Online Is Great

By Mikey Rox on 19 January 2011 (Updated 24 April 2011) 6 comments
Photo: DebbiSmirnoff

Call me a weirdo, but I love grocery shopping

It’s the truth. For me, an afternoon in the supermarket is like a Sunday on the couch for a football-worshipping straight guy. I covet my time alone, wandering through rows of perfectly positioned products that are quietly clamoring to hop in my cart. Seriously, it’s my bliss.

At least it used to be, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a jaunt to the supermarket. But if you live in an urban area, you know what it takes to get there and back in one piece. It can be a nightmare braving stop-and-go traffic, navigating the crowded aisles, waiting in line, and lugging those tempting goodies home without help.

Fed up, I looked for an easier way to put food in my fridge. That’s when I discovered that I could order groceries online and have them delivered straight to my door. I expected to pay much more, if only for the convenience, but it turns out that if you’re savvy like me you can save time, money, and energy — and still have space in your schedule to prepare a four-course feast.

1. You Can Save Time

This is a no-brainer. By eliminating the travel and wait times you’d spend if you went to the market in person, you’ll free up more of your day to do the things you want to do. When you order online, there are no lines, no going back to previously scavenged aisles to get something you forgot, and no standing behind a lady trying to sweet talk her way into using expired coupons. You’re in and out in flash. Make the process even speedier by creating a list beforehand so you’re not twiddling your thumbs trying to decide what you need — and ultimately buying things you don’t.

2. You Can Save Money

I know what you’re thinking — how in the name of Winn Dixie can buying groceries online actually preserve cash? I’ll give it to you straight:

  • New customers almost always receive their first few deliveries free. Otherwise, browse the Internet to find coupon codes for other specials, like 20% off your entire bill, for instance. Great deals often can be found if you’re willing to look for them.
     
  • Sitting at your desk and clicking food into your “cart” isn’t the same as when you’re standing eye to eye with all the junk you shouldn’t buy. Shopping online will drastically reduce your impulse buys, which probably account for 30% of your in-store purchases and 100% of your increased waist size.
     
  • Because you’re having the groceries delivered instead of schlepping all those bags home by your lonesome, you can stock up on things you need (not Oreos!), resulting in even more discounts for bulk buys. And if you find an online grocer that accepts coupons or has weekly sales, even better.

3. You Can Save Energy

Where I live, going to the grocery store is a workout. I have to walk several blocks to the market just to turn around and walk back with more than I can carry. I thought I was clever by investing in a pushcart one time, but that didn’t work out either. I packed it to the brim then had to push it uphill for a quarter-mile. When I got to the top, the thing toppled over, busting a few eggs and a $4 jar of dip. It goes without saying that I had to wash my mouth out with soap when I got home. Now I say screw it. If my husband can’t pick me up in the car or if it’s between the months of November and April, I’m shopping online. The delivery folks pack everything neatly and drop it right on my doorstep. I never have to break a sweat. Plus I get to check out the muscled-up man-candy that arrives bearing delicious gifts. That, in itself, is worth every penny.

Where to Order Online

You don't have to live in a bustling metropolis to have your groceries delivered. NetGrocer.com and Amazon Grocery are two of the best nationwide outlets that offer doorstep service with few restrictions. The one caveat with most coast-to-coast shippers, however, is that packages can contain non-perishables only. For frozen or fresh foods, opt for a regional supplier, a comprehensive list of which can be found on Mashable. There you'll also find links for online grocers that specialize in hard-to-find international, multicultural, and organic goods.

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Guest's picture
Maureen

I use Peapod online to deliver groceries to my college son, he is in Chicago and we are in PA. Love it! Also, they make a donation to my other son's nonprofit speedskate club with every purchase through Goodshop.com!

Mikey Rox's picture

Thanks for the tip, Maureen. You sound like a great mom. I wish I was still in your son's position. I looooved when my parents visited me at school and took me grocery shopping. It was like winning the lottery. I can just imagine how excited your kid is when he gets that package full of food!

Guest's picture
Guest

I am sorry, I have to say that I completely disagree with the idea that one can realize substantial savings with online shopping. I regularly cost compare and find that the online stores almost without exception are always higher in cost per unit for the items that we buy regularly. There is no doubt that it can be more convenient and thus THAT may represent a savings to people but in terms of pricing alone, I can do far FAR better shopping locally.

Mikey Rox's picture

Thanks for the comment, Guest. I see your point, but I don't necessarily agree. I think it depends on what you're buying and when you're buying it. That's the whole point of a sale, right? To get people into your store instead of another store. Online grocers often have sales - and coupon codes - that can save shoppers a good amount of money. Compare that to regular store costs plus the added bonus of the convenient and I think it's an economical alternative. Consider too that I never said online shopping was outright cheaper, just that deals are available for those who look for them which can make the bills comparable along with other methods that lessen the bill, i.e. not buying items you don't need because you're not directly faced with the temptation.

Guest's picture
Guest

Excellent article! Just wanted to add one more consideration:

This won't apply to everyone, but if you have to go gluten-free, it can be a little easier when you shop online. And I haven't found much of a price difference. That is, while I haven't save much money, it has saved me quite a lot of time and that has made it worthwhile, especially in difficult winter months.

While most supermarkets carry some specifically marked gluten-free foods now, in my supermarket they are not together, they are all over the place. And for products not marked gluten-free, I have to read all the ingredients to see if it probably would be okay for me.

So, with the online shopping, it's easy to click and get all the gluten-free marked products listed, and then for other products I can click to get the blown-up ingredient listing that is MUCH easier to read online than trying to struggle with it in the store.

Guest's picture
Guest

Alice.com is a great online shopping site. Free shipping. Not sure about competive prices.