When news of the coronavirus pandemic struck, we saw a mad dash for supplies and grocery store staples. Millions of Americans faced challenges as they tried to buy necessities. Shoppers cleared out grocery store shelves, and things we took for granted our whole lives were suddenly in short supply. Walking through local grocery stores was a strange experience. Seeing pasta, bread, flour, and other basics completely missing was something we thought could never happen. Doing cheap grocery shopping online and finding good deals was even more difficult.
Online grocery store delivery services were already becoming more popular in the U.S., but delivery services could never have anticipated the incredible surge in demand after Covid-19 hit. Social media was full of both funny and tragic stories of huge mix-ups with orders and examples of people needing to wait weeks for their online groceries.
The entire pandemic has been a crash course for the world in online ordering and logistics. There are now more options than ever and, thankfully, supply is catching up to demand. However, challenges remain, and it still can take more work than it should. As more people shift to online grocery shopping, they want to know they’re getting a good deal and what to expect when it comes to ordering the things they need. To help, here are five tips to help you get what you need quickly at an affordable price.
People used to be able to shop for groceries as they relaxed in bed, not worrying about whether something would be available or if there would be trouble securing a delivery appointment. Now, in the span of only a few months, there are millions of other people ‘competing’ for the same food items and time slots. Online grocery shopping, especially cheap online grocery shopping, takes time and patience.
Experts recommend you do your best to give your grocery shopping a buffer of an extra day or two to guarantee you get what you need. Additionally, we found that items or time slots that weren’t available at the beginning of our shopping experience were open by the time we finished. People change their minds and move things in and out of their carts. Schedules change. You’ve got to be more flexible. Refreshing the page at intervals as you shop will increase your chances of success.
You can increase the odds of buying hard to find items and getting a faster delivery appointment by shopping when other people are busy doing other things. If you get the timing right, you’ll be first in line to purchase those avocados you’ve been wanting or finally get the craft beer that just came back in stock. Grocery stores typically do their restocking late in the evenings, so late night shopping is a good idea. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the online menu just after the stores and apps update their item lists.
We’ve seen that there are generally more curbside pickup slots available than there are delivery slots. That’s even more true if you live in a city where not everyone has cars or wants to get in a rideshare to get their groceries. If you need your groceries sooner rather than later, taking a trip to the store for contactless pickup is a good option. Curbside can also be a better deal. You avoid the delivery fee in most cases, and it’s easier to make last-minute changes if something in the order is wrong or you need to get a substitute item.
Saving the delivery fee may not be a priority for everyone, but it never hurts if the grocery store is nearby or on your way home from the office. Be discerning around fees when considering curbside versus delivery. Some stores waive the entire cost of a curbside pickup while others only offer a small discount. Depending on where you’re shopping, the discount amount may not be worth the time it takes you to drive to the store.
To find good deals on everything you need, you’ll have more success if you use several online grocery delivery services. Across the country, most areas have the same large players such as Amazon Fresh, Target, Peapod, Walmart, and Instacart. They’re all mostly the same, but there are subtle differences in their apps and operations. A certain kind of sauce might be unavailable on one service but in stock on another. That may be due to different computer tracking systems that get updated at varying times or simply because one does a better job of knowing what’s available. They also charge different rates that affect the total cost of your groceries.
If you’re only using one grocery delivery service, you will have a tougher time getting what you need, particularly if you’re looking for a specialty product or locally-made items. Depending on where you live, local stores often offer delivery services to customers. Using several services will also help let you know which delivery service is the strongest in your area. Delivery companies allocate resources differently, and their performance ranges depending on the market.
Getting cheap groceries online, particularly if you’re logging into multiple apps to compare prices and time slots, can take a lot of time. At some point, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, which is why so many people end up paying more than they should for products, shelling out for high delivery fees, or just going without the groceries they want.
The good news is that there are tools that make comparing multiple delivery services possible without all the stress. New tech like Availyst is delivering the promise of better shopping options. Availyst is a new startup with an app that gives users access to all of the delivery options in their area. They can see what type of grocery, takeout, and alcohol delivery options there are and compare prices on things like services charges and delivery fees. Availyst also tracks which local stores or smaller businesses offer delivery, so you can buy unique items that are harder to find. It’s the first delivery knowledge management platform and hopes to empower shoppers and make delivery services more competitive.
This year is only the start of what will be massive changes in the way we shop for groceries online. As the online grocery business continues to grow, look for more options around what products shoppers can get and how quickly grocery bags get to front doors. For now, follow these steps to find the best deals and make sure you get your entire grocery order at the best possible price.
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