It’s the battle of the shopping experiences…but which will triumph?
Guest post by Zoe Price
It’s no secret that supermarkets are designed to play on your senses and ensure that you leave with more than what was written on your shopping list. For example, stores deliberately re-organise their products to keep your eyes on new products or those that are more expensive. Sometimes they may play slow music to encourage you to spend more time browsing.
Additionally, despite being an average of twice the price of fresh veg, pre-cut fruit and veggies are an enticing option when time is a limited resource. And once you reach the checkout lane, you and your little ones are surrounded by a prison of delicious treats and colourful magazines. Come the time you realise you’re splurging on something unnecessary and you might notice that they’ve made the lanes increasingly smaller so that you have nowhere to chuck your unwanted items.
Add in the hassle of walking, driving or taking public transport and waiting it out another day before going shopping is an even more attractive premise – not to mention all that loading and unloading of heavy bags.
It should come as no surprise then, that a growing number of Brits are switching to buying their groceries online. But is it really better than heading to the local supermarket? For the most part, yes. Let’s find out why.
Caveats of Online Food Shopping
Before looking at the benefits of online food shopping, let’s take a look at a few setbacks so that you can avoid them and make more informed decisions.
Freshness: Unlike shopping for clothing or electronics, buying fresh produce means you have to deal with the possibility of your delivery becoming useless before it even arrives. Shopping in-store allows you to choose the freshest fruit and vegetable products, while shopping online leaves you hoping for the best.
Most online stores eliminate this setback by allowing you to log a return for items that you aren’t happy with. It may be a bit more of a hassle, but at least you won’t be throwing away any money. Look out for stores that offer free returns on their products.
Discounts: This is a tricky one, as discounts vary between a supermarket’s online and in-store products. Shopping in-store generally gives you access to more discounts, especially since you can choose from items that are reduced close to their expiration date. On the other hand, many stores offer “online only” specials to attract new customers.
Delivery Cost: Whether you’ll be paying more to have your groceries delivered to your door or to shop in-store largely depends on how you typically get to your local supermarket and how much you buy each time.
For most online stores, the latter will determine whether or not you pay a delivery fee at all, as free delivery is usually offered if you spend a certain amount.
Benefits of Online Food Shopping
Convenience: Of course, having your shopping delivered to you is a major benefit for most people, especially those who have busy lives and can’t make time for travel and walking around aisle-to-aisle. This also extends to other categories such as home cleaning products and toiletries, as well as alcohol and smoking products.
For instance, the alcohol delivery service Drinks House 247 is available around the clock and can even deliver your order within 30 minutes if you live in London. If you’re hosting a party and you’re a little too buzzed to drive for more alcohol, it’s a safe and convenient solution. You also benefit from being able to choose from a wider variety of products.
Price Comparisons: It’s much easier to determine which supermarket is giving you the best value. Websites such as mySupermarket allow you to compare prices between popular British retailers, which makes it easier to find the cheapest product.
Additional Discounts: Most stores offer free delivery codes for first-time buyers, as well as if you haven’t done business with them in a while. You can also benefit from alerts that notify you when a new discount or special offer is available.
Impulse Control: When you shop online, you can pick up only what you need and avoid exposing yourself to unwanted luxury items. This is especially beneficial if you have children.
How to Save with Online Food Shopping
There are some additional ways to make online food shopping more affordable than in-store shopping. For instance, you can buy certain items such as coffee, grains and canned goods in bulk since it gets delivered to you.
You can also browse the web for sales, coupons and special offers to benefit from even bigger discounts. If you’re looking for organic or vegan products, buying them online will help you find the best deals.
Online shopping mostly boils down to convenience. But if you’re careful, you can save money at the same time. As we learned above, it also comes in useful in cases such as getting alcohol delivered instead of driving!