To adhere to social distancing and avoid contracting coronavirus, there has been a subsequent boom in online grocery shopping. Shopping online is easy because you can shop around at a variety of stores within minutes. When buying online, you can find the best deals and get your orders delivered right to your doorstep without ever having to leave your own home comfort.
However, there are also other factors to consider when buying online. You’ll want to make sure that goods arrive on time, that things have a good warranty, and that there’s a way for you to return goods or get help with any concerns or problems that you have.
Since online grocery shopping has been a popular choice these days, there are a few tips and tricks you should consider before you finally click that checkout icon.
From ordering at the right time to picking the right service, these are some of the best ways to assure your online grocery haul comes at a reasonable time and is as close to what you ordered as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.
Check different services
There are several online grocery delivery services with different key players depending on where you are located, certain services may be more popular than others. For instance, others may find more success ordering Whole Foods via Amazon Fresh than shopping for the same grocery store on Instacart. This is why it’s important to be sure to check the delivery windows of different services before you start filling up your cart so you won’t waste too much time on a service that will take days (or weeks) to deliver.
Call specialty grocery stores
If you’re still having trouble finding a good delivery window—or a store that actually has items in stock—try calling specialty shops or the local grocery stores in your area. Many local grocery stores are now offering curbside pickup and delivery within a certain distance and you can probably find similar services in your area. It might be more expensive compared to chain grocery stores and you’ll probably have to drive to the store to pick up your groceries, but you’ll may have better luck getting a good food haul.
Be patient—and refresh the page
Ordering groceries online has become akin to buying concert tickets for a popular artist: You’re going to have to refresh a bit. Due to the high demand, it’s becoming more difficult to find a delivery time slot at all. Some have found success by checking in on the service and refreshing their windows throughout the day. Although it can be frustrating and take a little tenacity, eventually you may be able to snag a slot if you refresh your page every hour or so.
Place orders after midnight
One tip that’s great for night owls? Start checking delivery times after midnight. We’ve always ordered groceries at this late time and have not had any trouble finding a delivery time. More time slots for delivery start opening up after midnight when these services reassess their resources and grocery stores have time to restock.
Work with your “shopper” for substitutions
If you do manage to successfully book a time slot, be sure to make yourself available the day of the delivery to respond to any calls or texts regarding substitutions. Although some grocery delivery services like Instacart allow you to choose substitutions when you place your order, even those might not be available at this time. Oftentimes, shoppers cannot leave the store until you approve a substitution and making yourself available improves your chances of getting something similar to what you ordered.
Opt for curbside pickup
If you have the option to drive to the grocery store, you might want to opt for curbside pickup. Not only does it give you additional pickup windows to grab your goods, but it waives the delivery fee and helps limit your contact with others. Plus, you might see that there are more pickup time slots open than delivery slots, which increases your likelihood of getting your groceries sooner. Many of these services offer curbside pickup for free, though you do still pay the service fee.
Skip the store and order produce boxes directly
Still having trouble getting a grocery delivery? Try ordering boxes of fresh produce instead. Food stands in your area might be offering pre-packed produce boxes that you can buy for a flat free. You could also try a produce delivery service in your area which will deliver a variety of “ugly” fruits and vegetables—and even some non-perishables—to your door. Even though you can’t select the exact produce on your list, it’s a good option to experiment in the kitchen, lower food waste, and actually order some groceries.
Give generous tips
Even if you’re missing a few items or your delivery came late, please tip your shopper and courier generously. Most of these contract workers rely on tips to make a living and they’re putting themselves on the front lines to ensure you get the food you need. Some online grocery shopping services have a default 5 percent tip on orders, but consider adding more to that number if you can during these unprecedented times.