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Oct 23 2017
by Zehra Naqvi

The Pros and Cons of Online Grocery Shopping for College Students

By Zehra Naqvi - Oct 23 2017

It's hard to balance academic and social life, but other aspects of college like cleaning your room or even grocery shopping can be the breaking point. Luckily in the age of tech innovation, we've been blessed with online grocery shopping, also known as grocery delivery service. From Whole Foods to Walmart, you can now directly order food from their site. You can add an item in your cart and later set a delivery time. It's super easy and saves you time as well as energy. If you don't want to risk the money or are just curious about the online grocery shopping experience here is are some pros and cons.

Pro #1: Charged After Delivery


That's right, you do not get charged until after your delivery. That means you can add items to your cart, and if it's not in the store you will not be billed. Some sites even have the option of putting in an automatic substitute for your item. So if you order a large pack of blueberries and they run out, you can specify to instead add a small pack of blueberries. Whole Foods' delivery even has your shopper text you immediately about the items they have or have not found.

Pro #2: Shop Anywhere, Anytime


Now, you can finish errands on your phone or laptop virtually anywhere. You can add whatever you need throughout the day or just look in your fridge to instantaneously order the items you need. You can check the prices of your total groceries, as well as immediately add coupons, allowing you to budget your spending.

Pro #3: Save Time


Grocery shopping can take hours. From travel time to the process of finding all your items, shopping for food can be time consuming. You can allocate those hours to napping, cramming for an assignment or doing other chores. With the delivery service, groceries come to your doorstep at the time convenient for you. You can finish homework while waiting to grab your groceries or run between classes to put your groceries away. Overall, you save time and energy.

Con #1: Minimum Purchases & Delivery Cost


The cost of delivery varies as some shops charge based on the time you choose delivery or can force you to pay a monthly fee. Usually the charge is approximately between $5.99 and $10 for total delivery, sometimes with minimum purchases of $35 or more. Realistically, these charges can break a college student's budget as delivery costs alone can range from $30 to $40 a month (if you go grocery shopping every week) without including the cost of the groceries themselves. You may have to consider how badly you need to save time with how much pain your wallet can withstand.

Con #2: Mix-Ups


Personally, I've had an experience with a receipt mix up or getting the wrong items. You're in a weird situation because the whole point of the delivery was to save time by not going to the store. Now you have to call in or email for what to do with your extra or overall missing produce. Sometimes you do not even get your substitute because the substitute may be out of stock as well. 

Con #3: Easy To Overspend 


Since you're just adding items in a virtual cart, it's easy to add a bunch of unnecessary items. You're not carrying any bags so its easy to buy extra cool snacks or more frozen meals. Also, the cart check out price does not include the delivery cost itself so you might invest time in getting groceries within a budget, but then the delivery charge messes up your budget. Ultimately, you possibly can spend the same amount of time shopping online as you would be shopping in the store itself.

Sometimes going to the grocery store is fun because you feel like a mature, independent adult, but other times it can be super stressful. You might have tons of papers and exams due the next day and you're spending precious time grocery shopping. However, the delivery costs may be break the bank or you could possibly waste time correcting an error made by the store. Ultimately, the verdict of using grocery delivery services is up to you as you consider the pros and the cons. 

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay

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Zehra Naqvi - University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley Student | Staff Writer

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