The advantages and disadvantages of grocery shopping online

groceriesGoing to the grocery store can be a pain- you have to find parking, deal with crowds, wait in long lines, carry heavy bags of groceries to and from your car (and in some cases up stairs when you get home), and deal with deceptive pricing labels and marketing tactics. For these reasons, today the trend of buying groceries online is becoming more and more common.

Aside from the obvious time and energy saving advantages of grocery shopping online, there are some less obvious ones as well.

The convenience of grocery shopping online

First of all, if you shop online you can create an account with a shopping list where you can do your weekly shopping with the click of a couple buttons and in a few minutes. With an account your regular shopping list, address, and credit card information is already stored and a week’s worth of grocery shopping is literally just a few clicks away. This is very convenient and could save you hours of time each week. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice the items you know and love because most major grocery chains offer online shopping and delivery now. If they don’t, you can always use Amazon Grocery which ships anywhere in the United States.

Shopping online also keeps you more organized, so you can avoid situations where you are heading to your car and realize you’ve forgot something on your list.

You could save money and calories by shopping online

Another advantage of shopping online is that you usually better avoid the deceptive marketing practices of many grocery stores that could cause you to overspend when you hadn’t planned to, or to buy something you don’t really need. By shopping online, you’ll be less likely to fall into these sales and marketing traps, and truly only buy exactly what you had planned to buy. This is also good for anyone on a diet or that struggles with eating healthy. By having an already carefully selected shopping cart and not having to see unhealthy items as we browse a grocery store, we are less likely to purchase things that will break our diet simply because we don’t see them.

Another way you can save money by doing your grocery shopping online is by not having any price surprises at the checkout counter. With confusing price labeling, among other reasons, it’s common that when you get to the checkout you realize you’ve overspent. When you grocery shop online, the price goes up on your shopping cart as you add things so there are no surprises at the end when you check out. You can see exactly how much you’re spending with each item you add. Plus, by having a standard weekly order, it will make it easier to control your monthly budget and make sure the amount being spent on food is what it should be.

Finally, you don’t have to worry about finding something specific, because whatever you want you can usually find it online and have it delivered to your home. This is another convenient aspect of buying food online.

You have less control over freshness and quality when you shop online

One of the main disadvantages of grocery shopping online is that you can’t physically select the item you want yourself. This isn’t a problem when it comes to standard and uniform packaged items (whether you buy your usual boxed pasta physically at the store or online, you can usually guarantee that it will be the same), but it can be a problem when it comes to other items that can vary in quality or freshness. For example, fruits and vegetables, and items from the deli, fish or meat counter. These are items you may want to have more control over, to make sure you are getting fresh and high quality items. Unfortunately with online shopping this isn’t possible to control and you’ll have to rely on a stranger to select your items. So, if you’re very picky about freshness and quality (do you tend to spend a lot of time looking and comparing items at the grocery store?), you may want to pick them up at the grocery store yourself while you leave the rest of the items to your online order. You’ll still save time and energy. If you’re not as picky, go ahead and see what you get from your online grocery store delivery and decide if its worth it to order everything from them or only some things.

Delivery issues

Although some grocery delivery services don’t charge for shipping, or charge very little, others charge a lot. Also, if you’re not home they might just leave the bags on your doorstep, which could leave your groceries exposed to the elements, critters and possibly even hungry neighbors. Also, certain times of the week could be more expensive for delivery or more booked up than others so you’ll need to be flexible, and around the holidays delivery could be booked up months in advance.

The anonymity of online shopping

Another possible disadvantage (although this depends on each individual’s opinion) of grocery shopping online is the anonymity of it. You won’t have any human interaction with anyone except for the deliveryman or woman, and there will be no chance of running into someone you know or meeting someone new. In our already heavily technology-based world, it can be hard to get enough real human social interaction, so you may not want to cut out your grocery store experience.

Grocery shopping online is a new trend that is popping up all over the world. Many grocery stores now offer a website where you can purchase online and they will deliver the good right to your home. Buying your groceries online can be very convenient, saving you time, energy and even money. However, with shopping online there could be some issues with freshness and quality, as well delivery times and costs. Finally, by shopping online you are missing out on the social experience of grocery shopping.