10 Tips for Successful Online Grocery Shopping

shopping groceries on online supermarket for food grocery shop

More shoppers are buying groceries online during these Covid-19 times. However, getting what you want and when you want it can be a challenge. Following are 10 tips for successful online grocery shopped based on advice from an informal survey of several online grocery shoppers.

10 Tips for Online Grocery Shopping

Some online grocery shopping services are affiliated directly with stores. Others may operate in conjunction with a store or stores. Depending on the service, you can have your groceries delivered to your door or pick them up at a drive through location at the store. For some independent services, you may be able to order from several stores with just one sign up. The final distance from store to door may be handled by a separate service in some instances. Good Housekeeping Institute lists several current online services. As services and experiences in different areas can vary and change rapidly, this information may also change.

One: Curbside pickup or delivery to your door?

Your decision may be based on which is more convenient for you or easier to acquire a time slot for obtaining groceries. If you do curbside pick-up, check that you have adequate space in your trunk and the space cleared out for quick and efficient loading at the store. If you choose home delivery, make sure you can be home at the estimated delivery time.

Two: Should you subscribe to an online grocery shopping service?

The cost of your order may be more if you don’t subscribe to a service. However, you may want to test the service for a while before you commit. Or you may want to keep your options open to use several services.

Three: Carefully read the guidelines for the service you use.

Benefits, procedures and policies will vary among services. One example may be the degree of flexibility you have in adding to and changing your online order.

Four: Plan ahead.

Decide on your basic menus by taking an inventory of what you have and what you need. Then build a grocery list. Be aware it will probably take longer the first time you order because you’re learning the system.

Depending on the service, your order may be saved in your shopping account so it gets easier to choose items in the future. Some services may let you start a new list immediately after delivery of your last order. For some, it may even be possible to make changes close to your time of pickup.

Five: Avoid waiting until the last minute to place an order.

Some people reported it might be easier to get a pickup or delivery slot during busy times if they ordered right after midnight or in the early morning. Also, sometimes a slot popped up if they tried refreshing their computer screen out the day. You may be able to place a small order to secure a spot and then keep adding to it until nearer the pickup time.

Six: Do your homework before you give possible substitutions.

Some services may allow you to list substitutions, and possibly include a price point you wish to stay below. A personal shopper at other services may call or text you about substitutions.  If in doubt, check online substitution charts such as the ones given in my Basic Kitchen Foods article. 

Seven: Read the order input information carefully.

As an example, one person described how someone ordered what she thought would be 5 bananas and received 5 pounds of bananas. Check carefully if you’re ordering by weight or amount and for other types of distinctions you may need to make.

Eight: Don’t expect perfection.

One survey member received small cucumbers instead of her order of zucchini. The reverse happened for a different shopper. Another received whole wheat flour instead of white flour. If there is a “comment box” with your service, you might include any specific directions that may be helpful to the shopper.

Nine: Tip generously if tipping is allowed.

A 20% or more tip is common if tipping is permitted. Don’t confuse a “service charge” on the bill with a tip. If tipping is allowed, see if you can tip electronically instead of handling cash.

Ten: Check if there are special services for senior citizens, disabled or high-risk customers.

Special services might range from free delivery to special assistance in shopping.

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©2020 Alice Henneman