Grocery Shopping Online

I have loved to shop online from the earliest days of my Internet life. Although I was aware that buying groceries online has been an option for a few years, I hadn’t taken advantage of it. In truth, I considered online grocery shopping to be a service for the old, the infirm, the disabled, the mom with a new infant or a gaggle of preschoolers in tow. I thought it was expensive, too — fixing it in my head at $15, when in reality, it’s only $5 (at Harris Teeter, anyway. In St. Louis, Dierbergs has a Groceries to Go online service with delivery for $12.95 plus 10 percent of your bill.)

And then, a few weeks ago, my husband told me his colleague Kelly does it all the time. He said, “Think about the time savings. How long does it take you to grocery shop?”

“At least an hour, sometimes an hour and a half.”

“Isn’t your time worth $5?”

Yes, yes it is. Not every store has online shopping of course. We’re lucky that the upscale grocery store chain with a location nearest to us, Harris Teeter, does. Here’s how it works: you select all the items you want to purchase from the store Web site — there’s an aisle by aisle directory with photos to help you make your selections and a search feature when you can’t find what you need. The first time out was time-consuming because I created a master list; a list of all the items I buy every week, like bread and milk, apples and bananas, etc. Once you’re done shopping, you check out with a credit card or note that you want to pay by check when you arrive. Then you choose from a selection of times for pick-up (they only staff for the online shopping service certain times of day, certain days of the week.) At this stage, you can also provide any special notes or tell them if you’ll allow substitutions.

When you arrive at the store (within the half hour pickup time previously selected), there is a designated parking spot for online shoppers. Pull into the spot, push the button and tell the disembodied voice your last name. Within minutes, a friendly employee will come out and load up your car with the groceries that have been pre-gathered and waiting for you in vast refrigerators just inside the store. This week, my personal shopper Denise told me about some substitutions she’d made, for example, a much larger box of cereal for just $.10 more, and the store brand chocolate chips (I’ll be baking cookies when I get done, here) since the name brand I selected was out of stock. I appreciate the additional thought provided by the shoppers who make sure I’m getting the best produce and the best deals.

I have made a few mistakes the first two times I’ve done it. The first time, I was thinking “one bunch of bananas” and what I got was one, single banana in a plastic bag. I forgot this week to order the ground beef by the pound and got just one quarter pound of beef (burger, anyone?). I’m getting the hang of it though.

The advantages, besides all the time-saving is that I’m not tempted to buy any impulse junk food; I’m more likely to remember everything if I have time to think about my purchases throughout the week, also because the master list is automated so the regular weekly items I need won’t be forgotten; and, I can more easily review prices with a running total as I’m shopping. I remember days when my weekly budget was under $100 and I’d carefully crawl the aisles with a calculator to make sure I didn’t overspend; this has the same function, and is much less humiliating. I’ll pay $5 for that, anytime.

Now, obviously, the online shopping is for the big weekly spree — not the dash for the gallon of milk or the pound of ground beef I’ll have to pick up some time . . .  it’s for saving that exhausting hour or so of wandering the aisles giving me more time for family, relaxing on the weekends and of course, blogging.

Have you tried online grocery shopping? What did you think? If you haven’t, would you be willing to give it a shot? The first time you shop online with Harris Teeter is FREE, so like any addictive habit, they know how to get you hooked.

About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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10 Responses to Grocery Shopping Online

  1. Jennifer says:

    I like the service that Harris Teeter offers. I don’t use it often, but I know it’s there when I need it. The only time I’ve ever had a problem was when I made a mistake and ordered the wrong thing.

  2. Marriage-101 says:

    I’ve thought about trying it, but I’m also a coupon whore and will stand there debating over the various brands to make sure I’m getting the best deal. I imagine trying to do this online would take just as long, if not longer, so I don’t mind making the weekly grocery trip. Besides, I find grocery shopping somewhat therapeutic.

  3. Dwight says:

    I can’t imagine.

  4. marijean says:

    UPDATE: I went into the store to get the aforementioned ground beef and a couple of late-breaking additional needs and coyly asked a manager if we’re supposed to tip the personal shoppers and the answer is NO!

    In fact, employees could lose their jobs for accepting tips. So, online shopping is still just $5. Suh-weet.

  5. Mistie says:

    I’m so jealous I’m ready to cry. Why don’t we have a reasonably priced service like this in the ‘Lou?!! Getting groceries without having to entertain/keep from throwing things/say no to all the unhealthy snacks wanted by my four- and two-year old girls? That’s a mommy’s idea of heaven on earth!

  6. Susan says:

    Mistie, I’m your reasonably priced service in the ‘Lou. For a very minimal amount, I will do your grocery shopping and deliver it to your car at work. Unlike Marijean’s store, though, I accept tips.

  7. You might also check out retailrelay.com (for the Charlottesville folk). No fee if you’re picking up the groceries from a drop point. They have relationships with many stores in the area and lots of local foodstuffs. Great customer service. We’ve used them a few times now and have become big fans.

  8. i love Online shopping because it is so convenient and it is just one click away.’,,

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