Have you heard about services like Instacart and Peapod? They deliver your groceries right to your door so you never have to stop at the supermarket. It’s an incredibly tempting offer, especially since it saves time and helps you avoid a sometimes stressful errand every week. But are the costs worth it? Read on to learn more about how these services work and whether they can help you save money.
How it Works
Though the specifics of each service vary slightly, they all offer an online ordering system. You go to the website to find each of the foods you want and select the quantity you’d like delivered. Then, you set an approximate delivery time (usually a window of an hour or two) when you’ll be available to receive the delivery at home. You pay a little extra for the delivery and, depending on company policies, a tip for the driver.
How Much it Costs
On the surface, grocery delivery seems incredibly affordable. The delivery fees are often very reasonable, with some priced at just a few dollars. However, there’s a hidden cost any shopper needs to consider. The prices are fixed when you shop online – you can’t hunt for bargains as easily, and some sales in the store may not be reflected online. Although many sites do show discounts on certain items, you likely won’t have access to as many in-store discounts when you order your groceries online.
So grocery delivery clearly costs a little more. But do the benefits make it worth the extra cost? It depends on your situation. Take a look at these perks to see if they might make ordering your groceries online worthwhile:
- Time: If you’re short on time, then a grocery delivery service could be well worth it for your mental health. Being able to come straight home from work instead of jetting off to a busy supermarket can give you more time for hobbies, family and other activities. Plus, it can alleviate the stress of navigating crowded aisles and waiting in line to checkout. If you have plenty of time to spare for running errands, then this benefit doesn’t apply to you.
- Budget: Those who are prone to impulse buys at the grocery store will find that shopping online often eliminates those excess purchases. When you shop online, it’s less tempting to go for unnecessary treats and other splurges. You can stick to a strict budget and watch the total as you add items to your cart. This helps a lot of people stay on track in terms of planning meals for the week and not going over an allotted grocery budget.
- Bulk items: Those who live in urban areas might not have a car to get to the store. This can make it difficult for them to get deals on bulk items since they might not have a way to carry these items home as they walk or take public transportation. With grocery delivery, you can snag deals on that giant pack of toilet paper without worrying about how you’ll get it home.
While grocery delivery is incredibly convenient, it’s not right for everyone. Some drawbacks make this service a poor financial choice for certain shoppers, such as:
- Price: As mentioned above, it costs extra to order your groceries online. If you’re good about sticking to your budget in the supermarket, buying online won’t save you money, it will only save you time.
- Selection: Not being able to hand-pick your items is one of the biggest drawbacks for those who are used to shopping in stores. This may be especially frustrating if you buy a lot of fresh produce. For the best results, ask the delivery service about their policies on battered or rotten fruits and vegetables. Some will offer a refund if you receive produce that’s not up to par.
- Variety: You might not be able to find specific products or brands that you like when you use a grocery delivery service. If you’re still having to travel to the supermarket to pick up some items, it may not be worth it have the rest delivered.
- Delivery times: While it’s convenient that you get to schedule a time slot for your grocery delivery, you won’t be given a specific time. That means you’ll need to be available at home for a window of at least an hour or two in order to be there when your groceries arise. And as with any delivery service, a few delays are bound to happen over time.
If you’re short on time and not the best about sticking to your budget and your shopping list at the grocery store, a delivery service may be just what you need to get organized and keep your shopping habits frugal.