Shoppers everywhere love online supermarkets. Around half of us do at least some of our weekly grocery shop online, and that number is even higher for younger people (62% in 2017, according to Mintel). In fact, the UK online grocery market is expected to be second in size only to China within two years.
But maybe you’re one of the holdouts, and you’ve yet to make the jump from bricks-and-mortar to browser. Well, you’re missing out not only on some great convenience benefits, but you might also be spending more money than you need to.
Here are reasons you should give online food shopping a go:
1. Swerve the queues and the crowds
If we had to pick just one reason to switch from bricks-and-mortar stores to online supermarket shopping this would be it. Okay, so you might not hate going to your local supermarket. After all, they’re carefully designed to make you feel good about shopping (and spending more than you planned – see below). But, really, we could happily live without the after-school crowds, the battle to find a parking space, the harsh fluorescent lighting, and the cynically confusing layout. Give us shopping from the sofa in our pyjamas any day.
2. Avoid distractions & upselling
Supermarkets are finely-tuned machines designed to part you from your money with as little fuss as possible. Everything from the floorplan to lighting has been carefully calibrated over the course of decades to draw you into the store (loss leaders out front-and-centre) and maximise your spend (treats and impulse buys at the checkout and profitable items at eye level). Supermarkets can be hell if you’re on a tight budget or trying to keep to a healthy diet. When you order groceries online it’s easier to focus on what you actually need to buy, allows you the time to make sure you’re maximising your budget, and makes it much harder for supermarkets to manipulate you into overspending on unnecessary items.
3. Easy access to a variety of retailers
Most of us are not especially open to switching between supermarkets. We usually have a go-to branch where we do the bulk of our food and household shopping. This makes it difficult to be really savvy about our supermarket shopping. When you shop for groceries online, you can choose based on which offers the best experience for you. This isn’t just about price (see more on that below), but ease-of-use, flexibility of delivery slots, helpful tools offered, and more.
4. The convenience of same-day delivery
Online shopping is great, until you realise you have nothing in the house for dinner and can’t get a delivery slot until later in the week.
More than half of online food shoppers count same-day delivery as “important”, and it’s an especially relevant factor for shoppers aged 16-24, with 71% describing it as an important factor.
Luckily, the threat of Amazon Fresh and its super-fast local deliveries (mainly in London and surrounding areas) has seen Tesco and Sainsbury’s jump on the same-day bandwagon. Tesco currently offers the service to almost the entire country, while Sainsbury’s coverage is less extensive, but growing fast. Just watch out for those delivery fees!
5. Recipe boxes and other online innovations
Online food delivery isn’t just about supermarket shopping and takeaway deliveries. Recipe boxes represent a middle ground between the two that is growing in popularity. There are already a number serving the UK market.
Despite the fact that recipe boxes are more costly than traditional supermarkets, they’re proving popular because they offer a way for busy people to enjoy healthy home-cooked meals with much less hassle. Also, the cost of each meal per person is explicit, which is a useful way of keeping track of your food budget.
6. Compare prices with ease
Online supermarkets are a godsend for the savvy shopper, simply because it’s much easier to compare prices. For one thing, you can shop from the peace and quiet of your home, which makes it much easier to take the time to look at all your options. But by far the most important reason is the wonderful mySupermarket. It makes it easy to compare prices across the full range of supermarkets, not just per product but across your whole basket. If your shop could be done cheaper at a different supermarket, you can switch across with one click. There’s also a “Swap and Save” tool that helps you save money by suggesting cheaper alternatives to your picks, as well as a tool for booking delivery slots in advance.