Online grocery shopping is a way of buying food and other household necessities using a web-based shopping service. There are two basic methods that people can use to purchase these items online. One is to order them from a local grocery store that participates in online shopping. A customer can then arrange for a home delivery directly from the store, or he can pick up his order at the store once an employee has assembled it. Another common practice is to order groceries from a large company, such as Amazon or Netgrocer, that will ship the items to one’s home.
Ordering groceries online became popular in the 1990s, in the United States, during what has been called the dot-com boom. The popularity was short-lived, however, and several online shopping services faced bankruptcy. Over the next few years, some of them survived economic hardship to remain strong in the market, and today there are numerous online grocery retailers. Many market experts currently feel that online grocery shopping is a profitable concept and will continue to grow in popularity.
Grocery shoppers have local, national, and international options available to them. Some U.S.-based companies provide delivery throughout the country, while others have limited service areas. For those searching for unique, organic, or international products, there are stores that sell those products online, as well. Many of them offer international delivery, but shipping policies and prices may vary according to the customer’s particular location.
A grocery delivery service can be a convenient option for anyone, including the elderly and other people with limited mobility or a lack of transportation. Busy families also tend to take advantage of online grocery shopping services. When picking up an order at the grocery store, customers can usually specify a pickup window, which can be anywhere from 30 minutes at some stores to four hours at others. Other retailers offer next-day pick up or delivery. Deliveries normally include a service charge, and sometimes a fuel charge as well. Orders from a large online company are usually packed at a warehouse, not a grocery store, and then are shipped via a commercial shipping service to the recipient.
Online grocery shopping can have several advantages. If a customer has a specific list of items to buy, he or she may be less likely to deviate from it by making impulse purchases while browsing store aisles. In addition, shoppers can usually use online and manufacturer’s coupons with their orders for more savings when ordering online from the local grocery store. Large companies, such as Amazon, typically waive shipping charges on orders over a certain amount, or for regular customers with a subscription.
There are also some perceived disadvantages to online grocery shopping. For people who order in small quantities, the service and delivery fees may not be worth the convenience of shopping from home. In addition, some merchants have a limited selection, and customers may not receive the exact items they want. Many of the larger companies do not offer fresh produce or refrigerated items. Since different companies offer different products, some people choose to do all of their grocery shopping online, while others order only certain products from specialty merchants.