Have you ever had groceries delivered? More and more American families have given this a try recently. About 1/3 of Americans households have tried grocery delivery. Has your family tried a grocery delivery service? Are you thinking about it? Here's some things to think about and ways to cut down on fees.
Is grocery delivery new?
Oddly enough, getting groceries delivered has more in common with how your great grandparents got food than your parents. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, food delivery to your home was the norm. Your family would have an account with the local store, butcher, dairy, or produce proprietor who would deliver on a regular schedule and bill you later. Shopping in a store for groceries was not universal until much later when larger stores came along. Would you have thought ordering food in an app had so much in common with past generations?
Can your family save money by using grocery delivery services?
This varies from family to family. One the one hand, you will likely pay for things like upcharges on items, delivery fees, service fees, membership fees, or tips when you use a delivery service for groceries. On the other hand, you also save by avoiding impulse purchases in the store, cost of driving, and the ability to shop without flashy marketing in the store. Ultimately, it depends on how your family’s in-person shopping habits compare to the way you fill a delivery list.
How to save on grocery delivery
If you decide grocery delivery is right for your family or just want to try, here’s some ways to save.
Know how Membership fees work
This is similar to the fee you pay to shop at warehouse clubs, but different in some ways. Some delivery services give you the option of a membership. If you plan on using delivery often, this can be a way to save. This usually gets you heavily discounted or no delivery fees. Other services require a membership and fee to order anything from the start. These services often offer coupons of discounts throughout the year on their required fee. A bit of looking around online can uncover a discount with little effort.
This depends on the service, but some home delivery services let you use coupons the same as at the store. For the services that offer it, check to see if you can use manufacturer or store specific offers. Unfortunately, this is the exception since most services will not allow you to use your own coupons.
Look for sales and promotions in the app
In lieu of coupons, some services offer their own promotions and discounts on items while you are shopping online. These are generally applied when you put an item in your shopping cart, but you still need to keep an eye on this. Some offers will come via email. You’ve probably seen “sales” that are not that great of a deal. The same logic works here, but there are deals if you watch carefully.
Avoid small orders
Most services will tack on an extra fee for orders that are under a certain dollar threshold. Some services will also waive the delivery fee if your total is above a set threshold. You will usually be better off with one larger weekly order as opposed to smaller orders throughout the week.
Watch for markup
Some services will charge you a higher price for an item than you would pay in the store yourself. This is the part of the way some services make money. This varies from item to item, so be sure to watch out for this upcharge.
Choose when you order
Some services change their fee based on when you order. Busy times tend to have a higher fee. In other words, Sunday evening is probably going to be a higher fee than Tuesday morning. Look carefully to see if there’s a less costly time to order.
A few more ways to save
Your first order
Some services waive fees on your first order. This can be a good way to try a service before a commitment.
Some services give you credit if a friend uses your code when making an order.
You’re already a member
You might already be paying. If you’ve already paid for Amazon Prime, as an example, you have access to their grocery home delivery services without a separate membership fee.
A word on tipping
Some services do not allow their delivery drivers to accept tips. For others, plan to tip for the service you are receiving. Don’t make this the place where you save.
There are some advantages to delivery services like this that are difficult to put a price on. I remember once when my children were small, and our entire household was very sick. Grocery delivery would have been an incredible blessing. The time savings and convenience are a clear win for many families. Look for ways to save and make sure the convenience is worth any extra costs you might incur.
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