Online grocery shopping is getting more popular every day. It seems like every time you go out; there’s a new retail space offering curbside pickup. The explosion has only increased since the pandemic.
For certain people, this service can be a lifesaver. People with physical conditions, extremely busy moms, and those who are high-risk for COVID should be offered these services. You can find more examples of times when these services are needed in this insightful top-ten article. But what about those of us who don’t have a driving factor like these?
Should these services be limited to certain cases? Is this a form of convenience masquerading as a luxury that promotes laziness? We’ll examine this hot topic in this article.
History of Online Grocery Shopping Services
The first curbside pickup was created in 1982 by a company called Pea Pod. The technology used was extremely primitive compared to what we have now, but they laid the groundwork for future companies. Currently, most major retailers offer an online grocery service or curbside pickup program.
Types of Online Grocery Shopping Services
There are two main types of online grocery shopping services available for consumers.
1. Traditional Online Ordering and the Curbside Pickup
The first is the ‘traditional’ model, seen above. You place your order online and then pick it up at a designated time. A lot of retailers will let you choose the exact time that you want to pick it up, even down to an hour.
2. Delivery Companies
The second type of service is more new-agey. Good examples of this type are services like Instacart and Shipt. This service offers scheduled delivery for groceries, drugstore items, & cleaning supplies within one hour or less! You can do this by downloading their app on your phone, signing in with Facebook, linking an Amazon account (for easy reordering), choosing your stores/items/sizes, and selecting a delivery window.
An independent contractor picks up your grocery list for you and delivers it straight to your home. This gives you the luxury of ordering your groceries from places that otherwise don’t have a curbside pickup available. There are also strictly online grocery services that send you monthly bundles.
3. Monthly Grocery Boxes
This is a more recent trend, but online grocery service companies send out monthly grocery bundles to people’s houses. This is an excellent option for those who aren’t home often enough to take advantage of curbside pickup and those who want their groceries fresh instead of frozen.
Online Grocery Shopping: The Devil You Know?
Let’s get more detailed and examine whether these services really can be detrimental to our society.
Like we said earlier, this is extremely convenient for those with physical conditions, busy moms, and those who live alone and risk COVID.
You can design your order so it’s tailor-made to the specifics of your normal grocery list.
You can save a lot of time with these services. If you’re a parent with a busy work schedule plus commitments for your children’s extracurricular activities, these online orders can be a lifesaver.
However, you typically pay a premium for these services. Time is money, after all. The average markup can be as much as 10% of your total grocery bill. This is mostly due to the convenience factor instead of it being an actual increase in cost for the companies who run these services.
This falls more under “time-money” because time is needed to drive to pick up your groceries. You sort through them at home, put them away neatly into cabinets/counters/fridges, and then throw out any food that goes bad before you have a chance to eat it. It’s estimated that 25% – 40% of food purchased online doesn’t get eaten. For this reason alone, online shopping has come under scrutiny.
More Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping
There are a few clear-cut benefits to online grocery shopping. There’s no question that this service makes life easier for the elderly, disabled, and those with physically demanding jobs. However, there are also less obvious benefits hidden within the convenience of online shopping.
People who have busy lifestyles enjoy being able to order their groceries from anywhere at any time without having to bother a friend or a family member for help. You can also receive points and free items or samples for taking part in a curbside pickup program.
Detaching Us from Human Interaction?
Many people make the argument that programs like this implemented on a large scale are numbing us to human interaction. Many in the survival and anti-tech communities are saying the convenience of automated systems is leading towards a world too reliant on technology. Is this positive or negative for our society overall?
It’s important to note that just because an online grocery shopping service is convenient doesn’t mean it’s lazy. We’re not discouraging you from using this service if it helps you out. All we’re emphasizing is that there are pros and cons to any system or service, so please consider what you’re saying before passing judgment on someone who uses this system for convenience.
Takeaways and Moving Forward
Yes, online grocery shopping is convenient for those who use it, but it can also be detrimental if we’re not careful. There are some clear-cut advantages and disadvantages to this type of service. We encourage you to take a look at how these services might affect the world around you before making a decision on whether they are for you. Just like any other convenience, they can be misused.
Also, consider what type of food your family eats and whether the online groceries will provide them with all of their needs. If they eat food that has long shelf lives, such as frozen meats and canned goods, this might work out just fine for your household. Finally, do research into any programs available in your area! You might be surprised at some alternatives available that suit your needs better.