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Buying your groceries...online

Created date

October 3rd, 2017
Groceries on a kitchen counter.

In recent years, you’ve probably noticed a grocery delivery person pull up to a neighbor’s house and haul bags full of food right up to the front door.  Online grocery delivery services such as Instacart and Amazon Fresh are growing in popularity. In fact, FMI, a food industry organization, recently published a report entitled “The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” (fmi.org), and they predict online grocery orders will quintuple over the next ten years. By 2025, the group estimates online grocery sales will reach $100 billion a year. 

Busy parents of young children like grocery delivery services because they enable them to avoid taking cranky and distracting young kids to the grocery store. But the services are also ideal for older adults, who may no longer drive or who don’t want to go out during extreme weather to buy food. 

Outsourcing the shopping and schlepping sounds like a nice idea. But it’s got to cost an arm and a leg to pay someone else to do your grocery shopping, right? Well, there is a cost for these services. Instacart, for example, charges $3.99 for nonrush delivery orders. Or, if you order frequently, you can pay an annual fee of $149 for unlimited free delivery on orders over $35. 

Eliminate impulse buys

However, even after paying delivery or membership fees, some consumers and experts say grocery delivery can actually save you money. The biggest way you can save is by reducing the risk for impulse buys. We’ve all been there: You plan to buy the on-sale chicken, but when you get to the grocery store, the pricier salmon catches your eye. 

Anna Renault (annarenault.com), a speaker and radio show host in Maryland, started using Peapod grocery delivery while she was recovering from knee replacement surgery—and she hasn’t looked back. She says she’s not tempted to click on each and every link on the website, which helps her cut down on buying things she doesn’t actually need. 

“I order most foods online, often saving $10 to $20 because I have a big impulse-buying problem,” Renault says. 

Switching to grocery delivery doesn’t mean coupons are a thing of the past either. True, you won’t be able to use your local store’s coupons that you clip from the newspaper, but there may be other discounts and promotions you can take advantage of. 

“I go online to order the items, but first I also check all their specials,” Renault says. “Some changes might be made if it says buy three Scott products and you get free delivery. That’s an $8 savings.”

You can also look on sites like RetailMeNot.com for promo codes that can be applied to online grocery orders. RetailMeNot.com recently offered a code for $5 off Peapod orders of $100 or more, and a code for $10 off plus free delivery on your first Instacart order. 

Buying groceries online also helps shoppers stick to their budgets because you can easily compare prices and track how much you’re spending as you shop. That’s a lot harder to do in the store, so many people just swipe their credit card—even if they spent more than they planned.

As more consumers buy groceries online, the market will expand to meet the demand. More competition always means lower prices for consumers. 

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