June 27th, 2007

Consumer Whore

Quick Review Of Online Grocery Shopping

Didn't do a lick of work in the office this afternoon...instead, I quietly did my grocery shopping for the party this weekend.

I signed up with both Peapod and Safeway.com, figuring I'd give them both a shot and see which one I liked better. Ultimately, I hope to do most of my grocery shopping this way, and round it out with trips to local farm markets or perhaps Food City (Wegman's) for fresh stuff. So I figured the party would be a good test run for one of them.

It was probably more time consuming than it could have been, because I opened them both up and entered my shopping list into both, so that I could compare the overall totals before committing to the purchase.

UI: Both services seemed fairly equal; navigating around wasn't hard. In both cases, though, it seemed like you could spend time trying different searches to find what you want-- the wording definitely matters. Didn't try out any bells and whistles like nutrition info yet. Explorer crashed on me while I was working with Safeway.com, so I was pleased to find that my LONG shopping list was saved.

Products: Again fairly equal in terms of selection, though in both cases I can see there are things you can find in the store that aren't offered online.

Delivery: Offered in both cases in two-hour windows; both had a lot of availability and I could schedule a slot for exactly when I needed the food. Peapod lets you reserve a delivery time for as long as you keep the browser open; Safeway reserves it for two hours. Theoretically you wouldn't take as long using the program as I did, though, and in any case my delivery time was still available after the timeout.

Cost is a factor; Peapod starts at like $8.95 for the delivery fee and knocks it down the bigger your purchase. They also offer discounts if you accept a four-hour slot instead of two, and some kind of insta-check thing that takes $1 off your order if you use it. Safeway has a flat fee of $9.95, but offer a promo waiving the fee on your first order. In either case, I feel like it's probably worth the charge-- a big grocery shopping takes at least two, if not three or more hours out of my day and that time is worth more than a delivery fee.

Someone does have to be home to receive the delivery, in both cases, which makes sense.

Price: This was the big difference. Safeway is, hands down, cheaper than Peapod. Neither of them is the cheapest place to shop in the area (I believe that honor goes to Shopper's Food Warehouse where I usually shop, especially because of their no-club-card policy), and I'd actually thought Safeway would cost more. But the one thing Safeway really has going for it is that their sale items are usually at a noticeable discount, and for a big order like this, it really added up, especially combined with the no-delivery-charge promo.

One thing I note is that when you check out with Safeway, you get an estimated total that does not take into account many of your discounts. And they may substitute stuff if they're out of something, unless you set your preferences for "no substitutions". That can be cause for a mild heart attack if you, like me, expect your final invoice to be about $75 less than your estimate.


I do think you need to have a pretty good idea what you spend on individual items, and to have a budget close to hand. I'm also going to guess that it's not generally going to be a great way to get meat and produce, since you can't pick them for yourself. And, like I said, doing this for the first time plus doing it on both systems to compare, it took me most of the afternoon. On the other hand, it was time spent in a comfy air conditioned office and I didn't have to deal with crowds, or spend a whole evening in the store and lugging stuff. Both systems, I think, are supposed to save the items you've bought in the past so that future "trips" can happen a lot more quickly-- though unless you know you're definitely sticking to a particular brand, you could miss out on better prices that way.

Now we'll see if everything shows up on time, undamaged, and not missing anything crucial...

On a related note, got a FedEx update that my 'gator meat, crawfish, tasso, etc are on track to arrive Friday as well. So sweet!!

I fucking heart the internets.

Back to the salt mines...
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