Want to Start Grocery Shopping Online? 13 Things You Need to Know First

Reclaim your weekends and save money with these tips for online grocery shopping that will have you successfully avoiding the supermarket forever!

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Getting started: Strategies for online shopping success


With the help of cutting-edge technology, a multitude of available products and top, trusted brands, there are a variety of user-friendly ways to avoid the dreaded supermarket and still have quick, easy access to just about everything you need, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy products, pre-made gourmet meals, and even fragile items, such as eggs. If you are considering using an online service, good news! Consumers are finding it convenient and reliable—and stores are known for providing the highest quality products.

You can order on the go


Most online grocery stores offer convenient mobile apps that you can download and easily shop and track your order from anywhere. Check to see if your online grocer offers this service if you are frequently "on the go."

Safety first


Before you get started, you'll need to find the best online grocer for you. In urban areas, you have more options, but regardless, safety and security should be at the top of your list. In today's world, online safety is essential. It's best to choose a reputable and well-known online grocer and research the company before sharing your credit card information.

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Consider customer service


Check to see if your preferred online grocer has a hotline in case you have a question or need to speak to a live person. This can be very helpful if you need to change an order, track a late delivery, or get credit for a damaged food item such as a leaking carton of milk or mashed bunch of banana.

Watch out for fees


Online grocers each have different fee structures: in some you pay for delivery as you go and others allow unlimited delivieries over the course of weeks or months for a set subscription fee. Be aware of exactly what you are paying for as these can quickly add up. Here are 50 secrets supermarkets won't tell you.

It's all in the timing


Before you begin your order, learn the timing of the online grocer and decide if you will be home to receive the groceries (or not!). Some delivery quickly and others need a larger window. You'll always need to book in advance for holidays or other busy times, like before the Super Bowl or a predicted snow storm.

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Search for coupons and codes


Before ordering (or even signing up), search online for coupons or discounts. Some offer special pricing, especially for first-time customers.

Double (and triple check) your order


User error is the most common issue you'll encounter the first time you shop online. For example, carefully check the type of yogurt you choose, as there are numerous options, from Greek style to fat-free to soy. And when ordering produce, take note if you are ordering one apple or one pound. Check out these ways to reduce food waste and save money.

What to know about Amazon Fresh


Yep, the same Amazon where you can order books, gadgets, and ice skates from also delivers groceries. With a self-proclaimed "fresh take on grocery shopping," Amazon Fresh now offers an array of options for delivery across the America, including a wide variety of fresh food items, health and beauty products, and local market offerings. As an added convenience, shoppers can select from a one-to-three-hour delivery window, with either an "attended" or "unattended" delivery, which provides special bags that keep your items cold. If customers order by 10 a.m., they receive same-day delivery (by 6 p.m.). If you order by 10 p.m., you can choose for your groceries to be delivered by 6 a.m. the next morning. Amazon Prime members are charged $14.99 a month for this service (with a minimum order of $40 required for free delivery).

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What to know about Fresh Direct


Providing fresh, high-quality foods delivered right to your doorstep, Fresh Direct focuses on their strong relationships with local farmers and related businesses to bring customers top ingredients for tasty meals. Known throughout the Northeastern U.S. as a fast and reliable service, Fresh Direct will be expanding to other states in the future. They deliver just about any food—from fruits and vegetables to beer and wine—to your home or office. Delivery times are between 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., depending on the area. According to Fresh Direct, customers are not obligated to tip the driver, but welcome to do so if they wish. Quick note: There are plenty of promo codes, discounts, and special pricing available, so be sure to search online before signing up for this service.

What to know about Jet.com


With a focus on budget-friendly options for food and other items, Jet.com does not require a membership and offers discounts to consumers. The site's high-tech shopping engine allows the "prices to drop the more you shop," so customers receive discounts when they purchase more items. On Jet.com, options abound: Customers can "opt out" of free returns or pay with debit card and earn Jetcash, too, for future purchases. Shipping is usually two to five days (for orders over $35), with expedited shipping for thousands of everyday essentials. They also offer free returns (on nearly all products) within 30 days. Quick tip: Keep in mind there is a $5.99 shipping fee added to orders under $35.

What to know about Safeway


Offering the best of both words, Safeway provides grocery delivery to most U.S. cities and suburban areas, providing a localized service for customers, as the food is purchased directly from your neighborhood Safeway supermarket. Customers can purchase anything that is currently in the store—including frozen food, lunch meat, seafood, and bakery items. Safeway offers a "100 percent satisfaction guarantee" and has a hotline for customers to call if they have any questions or issues. In addition, when using the Safeway website, customers can add notes to the "personal shopper," and save their shopping list of products they have selected for future orders. You can also choose to pick up your own groceries or have them delivered within a pre-selected delivery time. According to the Safeway website, drivers do not accept tips.

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What to know about Boxed.com


For those who prefer to shop in bulk, there is an innovative online grocery option for you, too. Boxed.com ships everywhere in America and unlike "big box" stores, it does not require a membership fee. Most Boxed orders are shipped within one or two business days, and their process allows for customers to earn a 1 percent cash reward through their loyalty program. Customers like this service because not only is it more convenient to have home delivery, but it's easier to have bulk items appear at their doorstep instead of trying to fit multiple over-sized boxes into your own car. The company also offers free shipping on your first order, if you meet the spending requirement, which varies from state to state.

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