When I was the mother of young twins, I would have given anything to avoid going to the grocery store. It was a constant battle trying to keep both kids in the cart, without them pulling things off the shelves and screaming that they wanted the sugar cereals. Why couldn’t I afford to pay someone else to get rid of that hassle for me?
For parents today — and for anyone else who hates grocery shopping or simply doesn’t have time — that dream has become reality. A report from Food Marketing Institute shows that about 70 percent of grocery shoppers in the United States could be doing at least some of their grocery shopping online within seven years. That’s going to mean a pretty quick adoption of something only about 20 percent of people in a recent Gallup Poll said they have done before.
The biggest hurdle to online grocery shopping is ordering fresh produce, according to PwC’s 2017 Total Retail Survey. But local grocery stores may have an answer to that concern.
In northern Utah, there are many affordable options out there for those who would like to hire a personal grocery shopper. Sounds fancy, but these are employees of the grocery stores who are specially trained to pick out your groceries just the way you like them when you order online.
All Smith's and Maceys stores in Utah have this option. Harmons is launching in three stores next month (Bangerter Crossing in Draper, City Creek in Salt Lake City and 7th Street in Midvale) with nine more coming on board in early spring. Wal-Mart offers online shopping for 24 locations in northern Utah (about half of all stores in that area).
Customers sign in to their accounts either online or on their phones and order all their groceries. Each company carries nearly everything online that you can find in their stores and offers the same weekly ad prices. Users decide when they’d like to pick up (generally requiring a four-hour lead time) and pay online. When the time comes for pick up, customers arrive at the store and park in the designated parking spaces. A quick call or text alerts an associate that you have arrived and they bring the groceries out and load them in the car.
Wal-Mart and Maceys have a $30 minimum charge and Smith's and Harmons charge about a $5 service fee, with the Maceys service fee coming in around $2. None of the stores allow their associates to receive tips, so this is a fairly minimal fee to save the time and stress it may take to make a trip to the grocery store. Customers can even allow Wal-Mart’s app to track their locations so that it alerts the store when they arrive on site.
Smith's stores also offer a home delivery option for online grocery shopping. It’s through a partnership with local company PigeonShip, a crowd-sourced delivery service. This option of home delivery is available to anyone within a five-mile radius of the Smith's location, and PigeonShip charges an $11.95 service fee.Comment on this story
Even with paying fees, many shoppers say they find they save money when it comes to grocery shopping online. A recent survey by Information Resources Inc. found the majority of people say they made fewer impulse buys by avoiding physically going into the store. Fifty-five percent of shoppers in that survey said they plan to download coupons to use online to save even more money.
Of course there are home delivery options out there that focus just on fresh produce, bakery and dairy (Winder Dairy), or others that allow customers to order everything except those fresh products (Target, Boxed, Amazon), but if shoppers truly want a one-stop shop online to order everything from paper towels to fresh pineapple, the local grocery stores’ offerings are the best bet.