Tips for doing all your grocery shopping online

Stephanie Faris

When you compare prices between different grocery stores be sure to take the delivery fees and membership fees into account as well.

Some people love grocery shopping. They can freely browse the aisles, safe from the stresses of kids and work. But others would rather skip the chore, even if it's only to free up an extra hour or two in an always jam-packed schedule. As more grocery store chains move to offering curbside pickup and home grocery delivery, a growing number of consumers are making the switch to online grocery shopping.

But taking the leap from the in-store experience to online can feel intimidating. The truth is, if you buy items on sites like Amazon, you can easily order your groceries online. It's simply a matter of performing a search and adding the items to your cart. When you're finished, you'll check out and choose an appointment date and time.

Before you start, though, it can help to review a few pro tips to save you time and money.

Delivery Versus Pickup

Ads offer two major online grocery options: curbside pickup and delivery. As appealing as the idea of someone bringing your groceries to your front door may sound, it isn't the best choice for everyone. It may be easier for you to swing by the store and pick up your groceries on your way home from work than to wait at home for someone to show up. If you choose a nearby brick-and-mortar like Walmart, you may have the choice of delivery or pickup for your order, depending where you live.

With Walmart's delivery service, you'll pay a $9.99 fee plus a recommended tip, so it could cost $15 or more above what you'd pay Walmart for curbside pickup, which is free. Amazon Fresh delivery requires both an Amazon Prime membership and a $14.99 monthly fee. Pickup is available in select cities and is free to Amazon Prime members.

Curbside pickup is available from local grocery stores now and fees vary from one store to another. Walmart's curbside option is free with a $30 minimum, so you won't face an extra expense for picking up your groceries. Walmart doesn't allow tipping for its grocery store pickup, and other grocery chains have also adopted this policy. If you offer a tip to the clerk bringing your groceries to your car, expect that person to politely decline to take it.

Delivery, on the other hand, can bring tipping expectations. Walmart does not require tipping, but they gently encourage it in all of their marketing for the service. Amazon Fresh adds an automatic $5 tip to each order, which you can adjust as you wish. Shoppers recommend a tip of $5-$10 for both services.

Making Your List

Once you've decided which service you'll be using, it's time to start shopping. Here are a few tips to help with your first experience.

Scrutinize product photos. In-store shopping engages all the senses, so you'll need to be extra diligent when you're choosing items based solely on pictures. Pay close attention to the item weights and prices to avoid accidentally arriving home with a 45-ounce tub of margarine.

Plan ahead. Although some services now offer same-day service, availability may be limited. Walmart promises delivery in less than three hours, but you may find those times blocked out when you try to schedule a delivery date. Checking out and making an appointment at least the night before will give you a better shot at the timeslot you want.

Prepare for substitutions. One of the biggest inconveniences is that grocers can't keep their inventory levels up-to-date around the clock. So that Coffeemate French Vanilla Creamer you ordered may be replaced with Great Value French Vanilla Creamer. If the store has the 32-ounce version when you ordered the 16 ounce, the policy is to give you the 32-ounce at the 16-ounce rate, so you'll win in that instance.

Research products. If you find your grocer's photos are insufficient, feel free to Google and view the item elsewhere online. You may find nutritional information and multiple photos on another site. Although numerous grocery store chains now offer online grocery shopping as an option, it's still a relatively new technology and some shops haven't yet refined their product photos and descriptions.

Shop around. The best aspect of shopping online is that you can easily compare prices. Check out all of the grocery pickup and delivery options in your area and comparison-shop for the items you buy frequently. You may find it saves you money to go with an option that charges a fee but has lower prices on the items you generally buy.

Once you've placed your order and chosen a time for pickup or delivery, you're ready to go. If you opt for curbside pickup, simply drive to the designated pickup area at your chosen time and someone will bring your items to you. If you're going with delivery, you'll just need to wait at home and greet the delivery person, who will bring your groceries directly to your door. You'll then be ready to put everything away and enjoy the rest of your day.


Stephanie Faris is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.