The Best Places to Buy Groceries Online
Consumers are grocery shopping less often and in fewer stores. Trends show that buying groceries has taken a definite online turn since the onset of COVID-19. And more recent findings show that trend continuing.
Shoppers have their favorite delivery methods. Currently, home delivery is the most popular choice, with other options including curbside pickup, in-store pickup or delivery to a locker. All of these channels are significant, but most prefer home delivery to simplify, automate, and/or shorten the time spent grocery shopping.
Where to turn?
Interested in ordering delivery? Where can you find a reliable online grocery market? TowerLine tackled this question in 2020. But the playing field, players, fees and other factors have changed since then. Here is a more recent rundown of places you can shop for groceries online.
Walmart is a household name with brick-and-mortar stores. Walmart's grocery app is now integrated into the Walmart app, so you can use it to get the in-store prices you've come to expect for all fresh goods deliveries. Limited to same-day or next-day deliveries.
Membership fee: Walmart+ (premium service) is $98/year with free delivery on orders over $35. With Unlimited program, at $98 a year or $12.50 a month, you get unlimited deliveries.
Delivery fee: $7.95 to $9.95-varies on the time you want delivery.
Available in most zip codes in the country, Instacart brings together multiple local stores in one platform. You can even order from warehouse clubs, like Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's Wholesale Club, without a club membership. A personal shopper assists you, and lets you know through text messages if something's not available or had to be swapped. Prices are Instacart's own, though, and are often (but not always) more expensive than they are in the stores.
Membership fee: Free. Just create an account, select the store you want to shop, and place your order.
Delivery fee: Fees start at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. Fees vary for one-hour deliveries, club store deliveries, and deliveries under $35. New customers may be eligible for free delivery promotions. Delivery is free to Instacart Express members.
An independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Target, Shipt is another digital-first retailer. Deliveries come from a variety of retailers based on the customer's location. In addition to Target, Shipt also delivers from Krogers, Albertsons, Publix, Costco, Lowes Foods, Dollar Tree, Lidl, and more. Shipt's specialty is individualized service pairing you with a Preferred Shopper who fulfills your order for you—aiming to make shopping easier and less time-consuming.
Membership fee: Required membership fees vary by market. Monthly or yearly memberships are available.
Delivery fee: $7 for orders below $35.
A subsidiary of Amazon.com, available in most major U.S. cities. Offerings include grocery items for sale, as well as a subset of items from the main Amazon.com storefront. Only Amazon Prime members can take advantage of Amazon Fresh. Same or next day delivery. Members can shop for Whole Foods Market produce and prepared foods, with Whole Foods 365 products available. (365 stores feature a slimmed-down product selection and significantly lower prices on items like produce and meat.)
You can also use Alexa—Amazon's cloud-based voice service—to help with your shopping and to place orders.
Membership fee: Requires Amazon Prime membership ($139 per year or $14.99 per month).
Delivery fee: Free on orders that meet a certain threshold depending on location (with either a $35 or $50 minimum). Otherwise, $5 to $8 depending on how fast you want your order. Delivery can be as fast as within two hours.
Focused on East Coast of the U.S., FreshDirect works with local farms, fisheries, and dairies to provide over 800 products every day—both prepared foods and fresh food ingredients. FreshDirect emphasizes vegan, vegetarian, and high-protein options. Customers can select custom packaging for improved freshness and quality.
Membership fee: $129 for an annual subscription or $79 each month
Delivery fee: There is a $30 minimum order amount and a delivery fee between $6 and $10, depending on your location. Delivery is only available in parts of New York City and New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Hungryroot streamlines meal planning and grocery shopping for health-conscious (and often plant-based) options. It recommends groceries based on your preferences, along with recipes on how to use them. Unlike traditional meal kit services, you can customize your meal plans by swapping out or mixing up ingredients however you want.
Membership fee: Weekly plans start at $65 and vary depending on how many servings and food items you need.
Delivery fee: Deliveries that cost less than $70 have a $7 shipping fee. Orders over $70 have free shipping.
This market is a membership-based model, meaning you can't browse any selections unless you join. Get wholesale prices on natural/organic food, beauty and home products. Diet-conscious offerings: Filter by your lifestyle, from Plant-Based to Keto to Mediterranean to Vegan. Access to popular store brands, but it also carries its own product line, with over 400 different Thrive Market branded items. Look for online coupons or promo codes to save.
Membership fee: Membership is required, $60 annually or $10/month-to-month.
Delivery fee: Free on orders over $49.
Boxed prices for bulk goods are advertised to match or beat big-box stores like Costco. Boxed contains everything from essentials to grocery to household supplies in stock, with two-day delivery. There's a limited selection compared to other grocery delivery services. What most customers love is that they can also order Costco's private-label, Kirkland Signature. While you'll pay a little more for these items if you don't have a Costco membership, it's a nice perk nonetheless.
Membership fee: None.
Delivery fee: $6.99 on orders under $49, free on orders above $49. Boxed Up ($39 Premium membership) gets you free shipping on orders over $20, cashback rewards, and exclusive discounts.
Resources: Boxed, Thrive Market, Hungryroot, FreshDirect, Amazon, Shipt, Walmart, Instacart, TheKitchn.com, Food & Wine
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