Close encounters with online grocery shopping

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Like many out there, I’m a busy working mother. And with a 2 year old and a 5 year, getting to the supermarket is a veritable nightmare between the ‘I wants’ and the ‘no you can’t haves’, the embarrassing potty training incidents in the aisles (think puddles) and the attempts at innocent stealing.

So I was soooo excited when someone told me that shopping for groceries online was FINALLY available in the regional area where we live. I’d used online shopping in England for 2-3 years before I left and came to Australia in 2004 and had been missing it ever since.

Signing up was as easy as getting an email account and to keep things easy, I repeated the use of usual username and passwords so I could easily jump in and shop again next time.

I started off ‘browsing by aisle’ but that was a little cumbersome. Then I discovered ‘quick lists’ which was very clever in that it emulated your traditional offline shopping list, where you could literally write down items you needed i.e. ‘rice’, ‘bananas’ and so on and it would quickly pull up a list of all available brands and sizes of rice.

All in all my first online grocery shopping experience via Coles took me around 45 minutes to complete which still bettern than the 1 – 2 hours it would take me with 2 kids in tow. Naturally the first time was always going to be longer than the second or the third time when you have the ability to remember previous orders, delete items, add items and potentially check out inside 10 – 15 minutes.

Perhaps one of the best features (which was also there when I used to shop in the UK) is the ability to keep a running tally of your spend, which in economic times like these can be a pretty useful thing.  No more being tempted by the items on sale at the end of an aisle which just happen to be your favourite chocolate biscuit!   

On Coles you have the option to get the order delivered inside 3 delivery brackets – a 4 hour block (for a $9 delivery charge), a 3 hour block (for a $11 delivery charge) and a 2 hour block (for a $9 delivery charge). I opted for the 4 hour block on a Friday afternoon – 4pm – 8pm when I knew I’d be in.

Sure enough, right on 6pm the next day, my supermarket messiah (otherwise known as the delivery man) arrived.

Not only did he bring them up the drive, but inside the door and onto my bench. Pure heaven. No lugging of cans, heavy drink bottles, bags and babies any more for me.

All bags were knotted and as I eagerly unveiled each package I was pleasantly relieved to discover that no goods were damaged and everything I ordered was there. There was a nervous moment when I moaned to my partner that they’d given me the baby baked beans can instead of the normal size…until  I realized that I must have selected the wrong size; the yoghurts I’d ordered had been replaced by yoghurt ice-blocks (another stuff up by me) and I’d mistakenly clicked on some Uncle Bens fried rice instant packet mix stuff by accident whilst browsing for normal rice. But all in all, 3 mistakes for a first timer – not too bad and besides stuff the kids would eat anyhow. Not like I’d ordered pet food when we don’t even have a pet.

I’ve been raving about the option to anyone who would listen since. So far I’m getting no where with my retired mother who is in her 50s. Although she is quite capable on the computer and admits it might be a good option for her when she’s older and less mobile, for now she says she prefers to pop in as she needs things to get ‘out of the house’.

My sister on the other hand has no kids, but works and likes as much free time for fitness and time with her partner and dogs outside of working hours. She ordered online last week too, and also swears it will now be a regular method of nourishing her cupboards and fridge each week.

Next week I think I’ll try out Woolworths, or maybe the lure of a pre-written shopping list from last week that should take moments to amend will prove too tempting…

Yvette Adams is the director of The Creative Collective https://thecreativecollective.com.au, an award winning creative services agency based in Queensland, Australia offering the full range of creative services including PR, awards applications, websites, internet marketing, seo, graphic design, print production, photography and more. They won the 2008 Queensland Small Business Champions Specialised Small Business award and Yvette won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been a finalist in numerous other local, state, national and international business awards.

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