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Smart Shopper: Is it cheaper buying groceries online?

It’s no secret that technology is taking over. Americans are switching from in-store shopping to online for just about everything, including their groceri...

It’s no secret that technology is taking over. Americans are switching from in-store shopping to online for just about everything, including their groceries. We decided to do a little research and find out if online is cheaper than in-store.

When asked, many people said they would at least try online grocery shopping and that saving time was the most common reason they would choose it. While convenience is the most obvious reason to choose this method, there are some downsides to choosing the technology over going in-store.

In some cases, online prices of groceries were 30-60 cents more online than in-store. Publix was a big contributor to this observation. Stores like Walmart and Kroger did not raise their prices online at all. The difference being, Publix had exclusive online-only deals that could potentially save you some money, it just depended on what you were looking for.

As far as the shopping experience goes, many people said shopping in-store is something they look forward to doing. One problem with doing so however, is customer’s are more likely to buy more food while shopping in-store. The reason being, the smells and aimless wandering down every aisle draws customers to items they didn’t intend on buying, otherwise known as impulse buying.

“You’ve heard the saying never go to the store hungry? Your cart will be 3 times more full than when you go on a normal day,” said Clay Baswell.

Baswell is a customer of the online shopping method. He said his favorite part of this option is the easiness of ordering only items he and his family need.

One online customer shared her receipts with us. Her total online came out to $55.27. We went to a local store to compare those prices with the prices in-store and the same grocery list in-store came out to be $49.68. That’s a $5.59 difference.

But how does online shopping work? Is it worth the extra $6.00?

In most cases, online shopping is fairly simple. You search for the store you prefer to shop at. Whether it be Kroger, Walmart, or Publix. All three sites require users to create a login, so employees know who is picking up the groceries. Once the account is created, customers are free to search for whatever items they need through the site. It’s as simple as clicking one button to add an item to your virtual cart. Once the customer is finished with the shopping, the website will direct the customer to a checkout page where the user will be able to put in their information to pay for the items. Once this is complete, a grocery store employee will begin gathering the items that were purchased. And at that point it is up to the customer to go to the store to pick them up at the time that was given or requested.

Courtesy of: www.eMarketer.com

We decided to crunch some numbers though. Let’s start with our in-store customer. Say this customer spends $100/week on groceries. Since they are shopping in-store, it is suggested to add $10/week on impulse buys such as snacks, candies, or home needs. This amount totals out to be $5,720/year spent on in-store groceries.

Now let’s compare that to our online customer. This customer spends the same amount. Their preferred store does not up-charge the prices online, but they spend $100/year on online groceries. Even though some online users say impulse buying is not as likely online, some say it is more likely simply because of the “what if” factor. The only difference in price between online and in-store at this point would be the added fee that comes with purchasing online. Stores like Kroger charge $4.95 on online purchases, but other stores can charge as much as $10.00. Say this customer has a $5.00 fee tacked on to their yearly total of $5,720 and that total bumps up to $5,980/year.

So when it comes to being cost efficient, it seems as though in-store is the safer choice. Online can save you money depending on where you shop, and what you buy, however, the odds of extra fees and up-charges increase.

Today, the world of online grocery shopping is steadily increasing, but it isn’t slowing down business at grocery stores just yet.

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