12 Things You Need to Know Before Grocery Shopping Online

These tips for online grocery shopping will let you skip a visit to the supermarket.

1 / 12
Young adult male making online purchase
SelectStock/Getty Images

Getting started: Strategies for online shopping success

With the help of cutting-edge technology, there are a variety of user-friendly ways to skip the supermarket and still have easy access to just about everything you need, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy products, pre-made meals and 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.

2 / 12
customer journey, women pay cashless, internet shopping with mobile phone
Younes Kraske/Getty Images

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.” Here are the best grocery shopping apps.

3 / 12
Cropped shot of a happy senior man standing alone in his living room at home and using his cellphone
shapecharge/Getty Images

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. These are the best grocery stores in the US.

4 / 12
Mature woman using credit card making online payment at home. Successful old woman doing online shopping using laptop. Closeup of retired fashionable lady holding debit card for internet banking account.
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Watch out for fees

Online grocers each have different fee structures: In some, you pay for delivery as you go and others allow unlimited deliveries over the course of weeks or months for a set subscription fee. Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for as these can quickly add up. These things frustrate grocery store employees.

5 / 12
Food delivery service, male worker holding grocery bag, express food order
Motortion/Getty IImages

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 need to book in advance for holidays or other busy times, like before the Super Bowl or a predicted snowstorm. Read about these grocery store secrets you probably don’t know yet.

6 / 12
Happy young Asian girl working at a coffee shop with a laptop.
pondsaksit/Getty Images

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.

7 / 12
Online shopping concept nackground. Mobile phone or smartphone with cart and boxes and bag. 3d
Bet_Noire/Getty Images

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 to fat-free to soy. And when ordering produce, take note if you are ordering one apple or one pound. This is the difference between a grocery store and a supermarket.

8 / 12
close up businessman holding smartphone for checking work or make appointment and using application for manage job or surf the internet at outside office , technology lifestyle concept
Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images

What to know about Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh now offers grocery delivery, including a 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. 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). Here are the items nutritionists always do at the grocery store.

9 / 12
Colorful organic vegetables in green eco shopping bag - captured from above (top view, flat lay). Black chalkboard (blackboard) as background. Layout with free text (copy) space.
Cleardesign1/Getty Images

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 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. Here, find out the best day to go grocery shopping.

10 / 12
Young Indian woman using mobile phone at the bar
MStudioImages/Getty Images

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 within 30 days. A quick tip: Keep in mind there is a $5.99 shipping fee added to orders under $35. Learn the grocery store shopping secrets you need to know.

11 / 12
Close up of frozen vegetables
Issaurinko/Getty Images

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. Customers can purchase anything that is currently in the store—including frozen food, lunch meat 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.

12 / 12
Young woman grocery shopping for fresh fish inside supermarket big box retail store. The customer looks at packaged salmon seafood in the refrigerated section refrigerator case, examining and choosing food for a healthy eating lifestyle. The consumer’s shopping cart contains merchandise. Commercial products in the background are displayed for purchase.
YinYang/Getty Images

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. The company also offers free shipping on your first order, if you meet the spending requirement, which varies from state to state.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Marla Cimini
Marla is a writer with a passion for travel, music and culinary adventures (combining all three whenever possible)! She contributes to USA Today and a multitude of major publications worldwide, covering an array of lifestyle and travel topics — ranging from exotic Tahitian getaways; to Japanese food trips and Italian wine trails. She is co-author of the book, A Century of Hospitality, a history of US hotels. A frequent flier, she calls the Philly area home. Catch up with her on Instagram and Twitter: @MarlaCimini My website: www.marlacimini.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marlacimini