Should You Order Groceries Online?

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We live in a busy world and grocery shopping doesn’t always fit on the to-do list. Thankfully, we have plenty of shopping methods that help you avoid the crowds, save you time, and provide convenience. 

Online grocery shopping is one of the fastest-growing sectors of grocery retail (due to COVID-19), and companies and traditional stores continue to make the experience as simple as possible. Just because everyone else seems to be buying online, does that mean it’s right for you? Let’s take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of using online and delivery grocery methods.

Should You Order Groceries Online?

The Benefits of Online (or app) Grocery Shopping

  • Save time. Not only do you not have to walk or drive this regular errand run, but you’ll save time from walking around the store and possibly waiting in line.
  • Save money. Online shopping platforms often allow you to compare prices and view current sales. Apps and corporate stores also have opportunities for a first-time user discount or rewards program for frequent use.
  • Less impulse buys. Purchasing groceries online helps prevent making impulse purchases of food items you normally would not buy. Food companies are skilled at putting tempting foods at eye level and right at the register where you’re most vulnerable in the store. (But, the wonderful internet also caters advertisements to the user, so watch out for online promotions.)

Additional Benefits of Buying Groceries Online

  • Convenient. Using grocery store apps and websites will save previous purchases, offer scheduled orders, and can elect for routine pick-ups to eliminate the hassle of going through the motions each week. Using an app allows you to keep an ongoing list of needs right in the palm of your hand leading up to the day of delivery.
  • Ease of browsing. Apps and grocery store websites are advancing their viewer experience by making the search for items, category organization, updated sales, and ability to read nutrition labels easier so the shopper can still peruse the “store.” With a predicted 70 percent of consumers shopping online by 2024, technology is advancing to make searching for groceries and viewing nutrition information easier.
  • Additional resources. Speaking of advances, many apps and traditional stores now offer other services such as meal planning, meal kits and chatting with a dietitian. These services can enhance your shopping experience and aid in your full nutrition routine.
  • You can give back. Sign up for certain grocery apps like Thrive Market, and you’ll get 25% off your first order, a free gift when you join, and for every paid membership, they provide a free membership to a low-income family, teacher, or veteran.
order groceries online

The Drawbacks of Online (or app) Grocery Shopping

  • Extra fees. Not surprisingly, most delivery services and personal shoppers charge an extra fee for their extra work. You may even have to tip the shopper beyond what the app initially charges. Options such as same-day delivery may also have an upcharge.
  • Expect delays. An interview of 1,000 online grocery shoppers conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported that delivery delays were a big restraint to shopping online. So, if you’re expecting an immediate delivery, you might want to make the trip yourself.
  • Less likely to compare products. The same study by the IFIC states that online shoppers were less likely to read the food label when comparing products. Another study from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that nutrition information was missing from 15 percent of the online food items. The food label informs consumers of the item’s calories per serving, total fat, sodium, fiber, protein, added sugars, and all ingredients. This information is crucial to our health.

Additional Drawbacks of Online Grocery Shopping

  • Unknown replacements or missing items. When the item you want is not available, you have the option to opt-out of the purchase or request a similar substitution. But that substitution is chosen by the hired shopper, not you. Again, is the hired shopper reading the nutrition label and making the best decision for you?
  • Hoping for the best quality. If you’re purchasing fresh produce online, you’re taking a risk on the good, the bad, and the ugly. While purchasing “ugly” produce is sustainable and perfectly healthy, you’re also taking a risk on the produce being fully inspected for freshness, ripeness, and proper handling (think apples with fingernail indentations or avocados with thumb imprints). 
  • Miss out on the experience. Making this regular errand helps add to your normal daily activity routine with increased steps, lifting heavy grocery bags, picking things up, and putting things away. Shopping is also a chance for you to socialize with the butcher, the baker, or the cashier. Plus, some people just enjoy the trip out of the house.

Safety Can Go Both Ways

Shopping in-store can be risky for immunocompromised individuals, so having a helpful shopper can reduce the risk of being in crowds and touching unsanitary areas. On the other hand, you have to trust that the shopper is practicing safe hygiene and choosing items that are not tampered with.

Eating is a necessity and thus, grocery shopping is an important step to living a healthy lifestyle. So make your shopping experience fit your individual needs. Keep reading for tips on how to make the best of your online shopping experience.

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Actionable Steps


Do you need to shop online?

Decide whether online grocery shopping is for you. Is it easier and more convenient? Does it meet your budget? Is it safer?


Choose the best app or store resource for you

When looking for a delivery service versus the store’s company app, compare the following features:

1. Fee structure – delivery fees, tips, subscription fee, coupons, rewards, etc.
2. Delivery options – same-day delivery, unattended deliveries, long delivery windows.
3. Viewer-friendly – make sure the app is easy for you to navigate and provides the information you need to make healthy choices.
4. Variety – check if the app allows you to shop at multiple stores or if you have to stick to one store.

Ready to go? Check out Thrive Market and get a free gift when you sign up!


Tune in to these shopping tips.

When using online shopping or delivery, act as if you’re truly in the store choosing your own items. Check for unit quantities, talk to customer service if needed, meal plan ahead of time to avoid impulse buys, compare products, and always read the nutrition label.


You’re not stuck with one method.

Some weeks are busier than others. It’s okay to use online shopping or delivery and still go to the store from time to time. You’re not stuck with one way or the other, and being comfortable with both methods is only more beneficial for these changing times.

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About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

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