I am one of the biggest advocates of online shopping. I love it. A few clicks, the joy of parting with online money (it never feels like you are spending actual money) and a day or so later, depending on how organised you are, the shopping arrives. No driving around busy carparks looking for a space. No need for endless trawling around the supermarkets. No battling with crowds and queues. No need to spend all that extra money on the things you didn’t need. No need to haul heavy bags of shopping into the house.
In fact, there are lots of benefits of online grocery shopping:
- it can save you time
- it can save you money
- it is less stressful
- it is perfect if you don’t have a car or struggle to get to the shops
- there are online money-saving sites which can compare the cheapest supermarket for the list of things you need to buy
- many supermarkets offer free or very reasonable delivery at certain times during the week
- you can do your shopping at any time of the day or night
- you can bulk buy knowing that you haven’t got to carry your shopping
- most supermarkets will quickly refund any products that are missing or not of an acceptable standard
However, my years of online grocery shopping have been all plain sailing? No. No, they have not. Here are a few errors that I have made and that can easily be avoided if you take your time.
Be careful with the quantity
I once ordered 8 bunches of bananas. I kid you not. In fact, I have made this mistake a few times. Usually with fruit and veg. As well as the 40 bananas, we have received about 30 apples, about 100 carrots at different times and I’m sure there have been even more. I think I am ordering single items and instead I am clicking on a bag or a bunch and before you know it, the kindly delivery person will be handing over a whole tray of carrots and smiling as they know that unless you have a rabbit farm or are following a carrot only diet, you probably got a bit carried away with your clicking.
Be careful with the size
Here some common sense should prevail. If you order a pizza for a children’s party and it costs £0.49, any sensible person would assume that it is probably a tiny pizza. Not me, oh no. I bought three of the world’s smallest pizzas to feed 20 children at a party. Needless to say, that required the quick trip to the supermarket I was trying to avoid in the first place.
Substitutions can be interesting
With online grocery shopping, you do have the option to opt out of any substitutions but more often than not, the substitutions are the same or a very similar product. This can work in your favour too as there have been a few times when I have received better or bigger products for the same price which is great. However, there have been a few times where the substitutions could only be described as interesting. When my youngest son was a baby, he was lactose intolerant and I ordered a tub of lactose-free baby formula milk and it was substituted by a four-litre bottle of cows milk. I have had a pack of nappies instead of sanitary towels and cotton wool pads instead of marshmallows. That isn’t too many considering I have been online shopping for over ten years and they did make me chuckle at the time.
Always check your shopping before checking out
I usually do my online shopping on my phone. There have been occasions when I have been sat outside school or at swimming and the phone glitches or my fingers are simply too fat for the tiny buttons. The end result is that I end up with larger quantities or the wrong things in my basket. It is always worth checking that you have everything you need, nothing you don’t need and the right quantities. I usually have to cut a few things out too as I will look at the total price and take a sharp intake of breath and look through to make sure I really do need everything on the list.
Don’t always assume there will be a delivery slot available the following day (especially on weekends)
Weekend delivery slots are popular. No surprise there. So, if like me, you do your online shop late Friday night, it is really silly to assume that you will get a slot on the Saturday. It can happen but it is unlikely. Bank holiday weekends are also ridiculously busy and get booked up days in advance, so it is worth thinking ahead and not doing what I do and leaving it all until the last minute. That might mean that you will actually have to go and physically do the shopping yourself with a trolley and everything! Oh, the horror.
Be prepared to book your Christmas slot
For my favourite supermarket, the delivery slots for Christmas week are released at the end of November and funnily enough I had my first email about that today. These slots disappear like wildfire, so it is worth putting a few reminders of the day and time if you want to ensure one of those precious slots. Once I have my slot, I always do a really quick shop, usually containing ten bottles of wine and then check out immediately to guarantee the slot and then I go back and fill the basket with lots of Christmassy things (not just wine) nearer the time.
Make sure you are home when the shopping arrives
You spend all of those precious minutes perfecting the perfect online grocery shop and then you completely forget and miss the delivery altogether. Sadly, I have done this a couple of times and felt so awful about it. Both times, luckily the delivery driver has made a special trip back which was amazing, but they won’t always do that I’m sure.
I have chatted with a few people about online grocery shopping and a few have said that they worry about the quality and best before dates on products. I have to say that in all of the years of online grocery shopping, I have never had any real problems at all. The delivery drivers usually flag up anything with a short date or that has been substituted and if you’re not happy, they will take it back and take it off your bill, which is great. I absolutely love online shopping, I don’t miss the stress of supermarket shopping with kids in tow, that’s for sure and I am certain that it saves me money too.