In today’s busy world, convenience is everything — between balancing work, family and countless personal commitments, saving time and money is a major priority for most people. Thankfully, businesses across the nation are implementing new features to make errands like shopping easier for the average person. One of the most widespread ways this is happening is through online food markets, which are designed to make grocery shopping faster and more convenient.
What Are Online Food Markets?
Also known as online grocers, online food markets are grocery stores that operate on the Internet. Most online stores have brick-and-mortar locations, though some online grocers are exclusively online services. Regardless, these companies operate mostly in the same way: visitors order their groceries from the site and can either have them delivered to directly to their door or shipped to the company’s nearest location for pickup.
Due to the widespread use of smartphones, most online food markets are accessible through mobile apps as well as web browsers. Some grocers offer service through third-party apps like Instacart — these apps provide support for grocery stores that may not have a website for online ordering.
Some e-commerce sites, like Amazon, are offering online grocery shopping as an entirely new service. This has opened the online grocery industry to countless individuals who may not have been aware of it as an option. Whether you’re buying a meal replacement shake for yourself or getting groceries for the whole family, you can easily get what you need from almost any platform.
What Makes Them Popular?
As of 2018, studies show that 52.2% of all grocers in the United States now offer online shopping; consumers have spent nearly $24 billion has been on this industry as a whole, and these numbers are only expected to grow in the future.
Several things make online grocery shopping as popular as it is. First and foremost, this service makes it easy to shop for groceries wherever you have Internet access. Whether you’re shopping from your mobile device or your computer, it’s easy to browse the store’s inventory and add to your cart the same way you would in person. Everything is typically sorted into categories to make your search easier, and most sites and apps also have a search bar to help you find what you’re looking for.
Another thing that makes online grocery shopping popular is expanded online inventory. Many online grocers carry a much larger inventory online than in stores, meaning you may be able to find products that you wouldn’t have access to in person. Whether it’s a particular brand that’s difficult to find or a new item you weren’t previously aware of, online shopping provides access to a brand new variety of products.
Many online grocers have a purchase history that allows to you to go back through your recent shopping trips through the site or app. In fact, most grocery store sites allow you to ‘favorite’ items or repurchase from your personal shopping history, making it much more convenient to buy regular staple groceries for your household.
How Much Do They Cost?
Whether you’re buying online or in-store, the products cost the same across the board. The difference in cost comes from additional convenience fees — having groceries brought directly to your home will typically incur a charge depending on how they’re shipped.
If they’re coming through a third-party app, you’ll receive a delivery fee for the person who brings them to you. In this case, you may have the optional cost of a tip for your delivery person as well.
For groceries being delivered directly from the store, you may not have to worry about optional tipping, but will likely be charged for shipping.
Most additional fees are somewhere between $5 and $10, and some online grocers offer discounts for larger purchases. For example, you may receive $1-$5 off for orders over a certain price, and very large orders may even come with free shipping.
If you’re having your groceries shipped to the nearest store for pickup, you typically will not have to pay an additional fee. Some stores also offer curbside service, wherein an employee will bring your groceries out and load them into your car for you. Once again, this type of service typically does not cost extra since you are on-site at the store.
What Are the Drawbacks of Online Grocery Shopping?
While online grocery services come with a variety of benefits, there are some drawbacks to be aware of. Having your groceries delivered means you won’t be able to handpick your own products. You’ll need to trust that whoever handpicks your produce, fresh meats, bakery products and other goods will choose the best items available. You may not have the same level of control over what you get that you would if you purchased your groceries in person.
Another issue is delivery time. If you’re having groceries brought to your home, it can take time for them to be delivered. Some stores guarantee delivery within a two-hour threshold, but things like heavy traffic and inclement weather can slow your delivery person down.
There may be times that you still have to go to the grocery store even after having your products delivered. You may forget something or find realize that a product is missing from your order, ultimately requiring you to go out anyway.
Are Online Food Markets Worth It?
All in all, online food markets come with a slew of benefits and relatively few drawbacks. They make it easier and more convenient to get groceries any time, anywhere; it’s easy to find all of your regular staples and a multitude of new products that aren’t available in stores when you shop online. You can choose to have your order brought to your home for a modest fee or shipped to your store for free pickup. While you may not have control over every aspect of your shopping trip, you can generally trust that your online grocery order will make it to your home with minimal issues.