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Plan Well, Retire Well

Shopping for Groceries Online

Grocery bag filled with vegetables, eggs, and fruit

Recently grocery stores have started offering a variety of services to help you shop. You can choose to shop online, pay online, have the grocery items delivered to your house and/or pick up your groceries at the store. Who knew you didn’t have to trek up and down the aisles to buy groceries! Here are some options to consider when deciding between services.

Cost –

Many online grocery options have costs associated with the service. To help you figure out if the fees are right for you, consider how often you will use the service.  If you are a casual shopper, who only may only use a delivery service a few times year, a service that charges a fee per delivery may be more cost effective than an annual membership. While this may cost you more for each delivery you receive, it would still be less in the short term. Be sure to read the fine print. Delivery fees vary widely depending on the service and location. The fees can range from free with orders over a certain dollar amount (usually $35, but check with your store) to up to $9.99 per delivery. Be sure to check stores for low cost specials or free trial offers.

For those who use the delivery service to get all their groceries or who like frequent delivery of grocery items, a service that charges an annual membership may be more cost effective. Just like the delivery fees, memberships have different price points. The average grocery delivery membership cost has a range from around $99/year to as much as $130/year. However, if you use the service a lot, this membership cost offsets the per use delivery fee.


Low End Cost

High End Cost

Membership to grocery delivery service



Delivery fee per delivery

Free (depending on how much you order)

$9.99/per delivery


Replace, Adjustments, Out of Stock –

Even on a normal grocery store day, not every item is in stock. If this happens while you are picking items online, the service may ask you to pick a different item or comparable item to replace it. However, sometimes it happens after you have already placed your order.  In these cases, the person filling your order, the “shopper”, can select a replacement. For example, if you have your favorite flavor of yogurt, but it’s not currently in stock, then the shopper can get your second favorite flavor as a replacement. Many online sites ask if you are willing to have the shopper select a similar item as a replacement.  This option can help you make sure you get all the item to what you wanted. However, a drawback can be turning back the replacement they selected for you and not getting the items on your grocery list. 

Other adjustments that often happen are related to size and quantity.  Usually this is for pounds of meat or produce, especially when you’re purchasing specific amount of pounds. For example if you order 2lbs of hamburger meat, but the package is less or more, there will be an adjustment made for the price and pounds of the meat.

Keeping it in your budget –

Are you tempted by the cookies, cakes and other goodies on the shelves? Shopping online and getting your groceries delivered, can help you skip all of the temptations! It can help you stay focused on buying only what you need from the store, instead of things tempting your sweet tooth. Another way to keep your budget in check is to set a limit for the overall total price for your grocery delivery. If you need to tweak the total cost in your cart, you can play around with the items in your cart or remove items, if necessary.

Other considerations –

Let’s say you forget to put bananas on your list, you can communicate to your shopper while they’re shopping and ask them to grab them before they leave. It’s also good to be aware of when your shopper is picking out your groceries and then keep an eye on your smartphone or smart device if your shopper sends any messages relevant to your grocery cart.  

Another consideration is to determine if you want your groceries delivered when you’re home or not. Let your shopper know if they can leave them on the doorstep or if you’ll be home so they can hand off the groceries to you at the front door.

Lastly, some services allow you to tip your shopper. You can decide to tip your shopper online via the website or the app, or you can decide if you’d like to tip your shopper in cash when they drop off your groceries.

Grocery shopping online can relieve some of the stress of shopping for food and may save you money too! Take time to consider whether it’s a good fit for you and then consider trying it for yourself. Happy grocery shopping!