How to Shop for Groceries Online
Over 69 million American households placed an average of 2.8 grocery orders online in March 2020, according to a report by research leader Bricks Meets Clicks.
That number will likely continue to rise as more stores offer delivery and pick-up services and more Americans get comfortable with groceries being delivered to their front door.
So, how are U.S. consumers shopping for groceries online? For newbies or those that want to explore even more e-grocery options, here’s a breakdown of the ways people are getting their groceries via the web.
Some of the longest-standing grocery delivery options have been through membership deals. For instance, those that join Amazon Prime for $13 a month get to use the Amazon Fresh service, which has partnered with Whole Foods stores. This allows consumers to pick from over 3 million product options that are available for free same-day deliveries on orders of $35. Another 10 million products are available for one-day shipping.
Newer but built on the same model, the Walmart+ Membership is 4 cents cheaper a month and offers free delivery of about 200,000 grocery items from local eligible Walmart stores.
For those into natural and organic foods, Thrive Market offers delivery for $5 a month. If, over the span of the entire year, this service doesn’t save the customer as much as their membership cost, the company will refund the difference.
Similar to the membership option is using a delivery service. The leader in this category is Instacart, which gives customers the option to shop over 40,000 stores (many of them part of large grocery chains) nationwide for 500 million products.
Consumers don’t have to be a member to get $4 same-day orders over $35. There are variable costs for one-hour deliveries, club store deliveries, and deliveries under $35. Instacart does have a $99/year Express membership that gives members free deliveries. It also includes other price- and time-saving perks like being able to shop at bulk food stores without memberships.
Another grocery delivery service, Shipt, allows shoppers to combine products from different stores in the surrounding area for one-stop online shopping and delivery.
There’s also options like Boxed, which is a membership-free wholesale retailer similar to Costco that offers bulk non-perishable goods delivered within a few days to homes across contiguous United States.
Realizing the movement to online shopping and safe delivery, many smaller, neighborhood grocery stores quickly adopted some sort of remote purchasing options, as well.
For consumers, there’s a comfort level in dealing with a retailer they know, allowing them to buy their produce from a store they know always has fresh veggies and fruit, their fish from a store they know gets their seafood in on a certain day or their meat from the butcher they trust to give them the best cuts of meat.
Shopping at these stores is also a great way to support the local economy, which is something a lot of people made a point of doing during the pandemic in an attempt to help friends and neighbors stay in business and to make sure when the need arises to run out to a brick-and-mortar store that it still exists.
A more focused type of grocery delivery is the food subscription. When many folks think of this type of arrangement their mind immediately goes to meal subscriptions but this option is a little different.
Food subscriptions often are usually concentrated in one area of your food shopping--vegetables, fruits, meats or plant-based options are brought to the customer’s door once a month and then they decide what to make with the foodstuff in their delivery.
Local farms and ranches provide a similar service through CSA Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that allow them to connect directly with the consumer. This is great for the consumer as well as the farmer, who can tailor their harvest to the amount of people on their customer lists so they don’t waste food. Many of these retailers allow their customers to pick and choose from available seasonal produce and specific types and cuts of meat and have clientele interested in eating farm-to-table or organic food.
Though each of these grocery delivery options have different offerings and operate in their own way, each one is bringing fresh or frozen food to shoppers’ doorsteps either through shipping channels or through a personal courier service. What they also share is that once the food is left at the door their work is done.
From there, it is up to recipient to make sure the food stays put and stays fresh and unless they are willing to wait at home for each and every delivery the only way to do this is with a product like the DeliverySafe, which allows for convenient, secure storage of the food in an insulated lockbox.
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