Does it make sense to do your grocery shopping online?

With a growing list of grocery shopping options, it’s getting both easier and more complicated to determine what the best option is to make your weekly grocery run. With many variables to consider, such as transportation (car, walk, or bus) shipping charges, availability to find and use coupons, convenience factor, and of course price, the answer is not an easy one. Today, we’ll discuss some of the options you have for buying groceries and other related items at the best price with the least amount of effort. It’s clear, that it’s not a clear choice for consumers.

First, a little background. Buying groceries used to be a pretty straightforward exercise. You might have a few stores in the area to choose from, and typically had coupons to use as a price differentiation when all other factors remained the same. If you were lucky, a store might offer “double coupons,” which is what it sounds like – twice the value of a coupon for a limited time. Regardless, you’d buy everything in one spot and that was the end of it.

We have more grocery shopping options now..

buying groceriesEnter the age of the “big box” store. Suddenly, a lot of our favorite, regular grocery items are available alongside massive televisions and bike tires. This just changed the game a bit with a potential catch. Is it worth buying the bulk cereal at the risk of spoilage for lack of consumption before the expiration date just to save some money? Good question. Unless you are feeding a family, probably not. But wait, what if the item is at a bargain price, like I have seen for Starbucks, at Wal Mart? Sure, the bag may be massive, but you can rationalize that the coffee won’t go bad and you can freeze it. Same with items like toothpaste. You can probably load up and feel safe that it won’t spoil on you.

Getting even harder now

grocery shoppingLet’s discuss another option that’s now widely available, grocery delivery! This really changes things. Now, we don’t even have to leave our house to buy everything we could possibly need via shopping services like Instacart. With an easy way to compare prices, it’s very tempting to just click, pay, and wait for delivery. This isn’t quite full, on-line ordering because you will get the groceries delivered that day. However, that’s a less frequently available option for bigger players.

The final option

Grocery shopping via Amazon, Jet, Google Express and others are now viable options. I have used Amazon for one-off items, such as toothpaste, Jet for Starbucks, but not Google Express yet, full disclosure. But, what I can say is that the convenience of using these services is very appealing (given my positive Jet and Amazon experiences). And, with very transparent pricing, which is not easily found online for a regular grocery store, online grocery shopping can be tough to beat. Provided that you aren’t currently starving, meet a threshold to avoid delivery charges, and have space for potentially larger inventory, you are going to find very competitive pricing. In fact, with my recent Starbucks purchase at Jet, I don’t think I will ever buy coffee again in a grocery store, if I can avoid it. More on that in the future.

Confused? In a future post, I am going to provide you a summary chart to help guide your thought process in making the right purchasing option for groceries and other related items. While it won’t be comprehensive, as everyone’s situation, preferences, and population density differ, it should be a useful tool. Overall, I am excited that consumers have so many options for what were once pretty routine shopping activities and nothing other than price was a factor.


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