Did you realise that food shopping is growing faster than any other form of online shopping? Are you won over by the convenience of online groceries or are there still barriers holding you back?
Recent research by grocery analysts IGD says more than half of us would shop online for our groceries if there was no delivery charge.
That’s logical – why pay more for your shopping just to stay in your living room? And sometimes, the delivery charges can be a bit steep – although some supermarkets will deliver for free if you book a certain time or spend over a certain amount.
See before you buy
But is that really all there is to it? We know that some people don’t shop online because they prefer to see the food they’re buying – particularly fresh produce.
To be fair, your ‘shopper’ (the person who collects your order) isn’t psychic – they wouldn’t know that you want the leanest cut of meat or under-ripe bananas. Although there are developments with this too – Waitrose has a function where you can explain exactly what you want – not always a guarantee, but it helps.
So am I selling online food shopping? Yep, I’m a convert – maybe because I’m lazy or because supermarket shopping isn’t up there with clothes buying as a ‘pleasure’. The convenience factor has swings and roundabouts – you have to wait in for your delivery, but the slots are only a maximum of two hours. But it’s the lack of queues and the lack of, well, people that’s the real draw for me.
Silly supermarket substitutions
Online food shopping is not without its problems. Take substitutions – shopping online works fine if you don’t need something specific, and your substitution vaguely resembles what you ordered.
But we know that’s not always the case – we asked over 500 Which? members and one in five said they’d received an inappropriate substitution. Some – like lemon-scented kitchen cleaner in place of fresh lemons – were just plain ridiculous.
And if a product you need doesn’t turn up, what do you do? At least you know immediately if you’re in a supermarket, rather than banking on it to turn up. Maybe supermarkets should be offering services where you’re warned in advance by a text message? Every little helps, as a famous supermarket keeps saying.
Online grocery shopping looks set to grow
Food shopping is growing faster than any other form of online shopping. Morrisons predicts it will open online in 2012. And more than a quarter of food manufacturers told IGD that they’re considering their own online shops so you can buy directly from them.
I’m not sure how realistic that is – ordering your food from many different places would surely be more hassle – as our own trial of Amazon’s online grocery store proved. But if you buy loads from the same brand, there could be something in it, and it would give us shoppers more choice.
Clearly, the world and his wife in business circles thinks there’s something in online food shopping, so what can they do to convince those of you who are still put off? And if you’re a regular online food shopper what’s the appeal?