I remember when Grocery Gateway first opened, many years ago. Everyone was so stoked. This seemed like such a great idea! I had a few friends that tried it, but interest seemed to fizzle out.
Now, years later, online grocery shopping is still out there. It’s never become huge. But it’s a tool that’s available that really suits certain shoppers at certain phases in their lives.
Who Offers Online Grocery Delivery?
In Canada, the best-known online grocery delivery service is still Grocery Gateway. It’s joined now by the newly monikered Canada Only (it was called Canada Grocer), which specializes in Canadian made, organic and natural foods and ships all over the world.
There are local operations as well, such as Metro Glebe in Ottawa, which ships from Metro stores to the area and northern communities via the airport. Quality Foods on Vancouver Island. TeleGrocer serves parts of southern Ontario and Mr. Case does delivery of bulk dry goods.
Who Benefits from Online Grocery Shopping?
Online grocery shopping is all about convenience, so this service truly only suits people who struggle to get their groceries the old fashioned way. If you live far from a grocery store, can’t find things you need in your area, work crazy long hours, don’t have a car or are juggling multiple responsibilities like aging parents and young kids, the service might suit you.
It may be something you turn to as a tool at certain times. Like when one parent goes away on business, leaving the other with too much to handle with family and work, a few grocery orders could save the day. If one aging parent is in hospital temporarily, some delivered food for the spouse, who is busy and stressed, could be a big help. After the birth of a baby, when you’ve got house guests, or when you are dealing with an extra busy time like big deadlines at work, a family wedding or renovations, this convenience could really help you get through.
Should I Give it a Try?
Take baby steps. Find a service that works well with your life and location and has prices and terms that work for you. Start with a small order of national name brands — and go for stuff like toilet paper and cereal that’s difficult to carry (particularly if you’re someone who has to take your groceries on foot or transit most of the time). Try a few produce items like lettuce and baby carrots that are always reliable.
Be careful about ordering things like milk (although it’s the worst to carry and if you have kids you’re always running out). You need to work out delivery times and synch them up with your schedule: you can’t have a 3L bag going bad on your front porch while you are at work.
Most companies will allow you to enter comments when you select a produce item to purchase. So if you like your bananas green or you’d prefer a ripe avocado, include a note so there’s a better chance that you’ll get what you like. Oh, and you will have the option to include any grocery coupons when you check out, so don’t forget to add those.
If you are looking to solely save money at the grocery store, write down some of the prices on your delivery’s web site and double check them with those at your grocery store to see if you’re overpaying. (If it’s truly convenient to order, however, it might be okay to pay a bit of a premium.)
Find a Customized Approach
If you like delivery, try a few services to see which one has the best products, prices and delivery terms. Consider combining a grocery store delivery order with a fresh fruit and vegetable box from a delivery company such as Green Earth Organics (or find one closer to home). That way you can get the best of both worlds: your packaged goods and your perishables delivered right to your door.
In the end, how you get your groceries is not entirely about saving money. While you might pay more for getting food delivered, if you are eating more home-cooked meals, avoiding fast food and restaurants and lowering your overall stress levels, your body and pocketbook will benefit over the long term.