On-Line Grocery Systems as a Budgetary Tool

My wife is looking for some ways to “switch things up” with our grocery bill (which is fairly hefty), so this past weekend she tried out the “Click and Collect” Loblaws on-line ordering and pick-up grocery (and other thing) shopping system to see how it works, and she now has a theory that these kind of on-line ordering systems might be a useful budgetary tool for families (other stores offer the same kind of services (Wal-Mart also offers it in our area).

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Robo Groceries

The whole experience went fine (although for some odd reason they did not have lactose free milk in stock on a Saturday at noon (when Mrs. C8j picked up the order)), so I suspect we will be using it again, but can it control impulse spending?

The ability to choose specific brand, was quite good, however, the weekly flyer sale items were not obvious on the site (but she has since figured out how to find them). There is an ability to search by many different criteria (food type, brand, specific food (e.g. banana)).

How would this be a useful budgeting tool? Mrs. C8j had a few good points

  • There is a running total that shows when you start putting things in your basket, so you will know how much you are spending (a minimum order of $30 at Loblaws).
  • You are shopping from home so you are less likely to buy things you already have (OK, we didn’t quite get that right this time, we seem to have overloaded on yogurt, but next time we won’t).
  • If you think of it there is a chance to do less “impulse buying” (e.g. buying magazines at the check out, etc.,), however, given most things are available, you can still buy crap you don’t need, easily.
  • You do save “time” which some have said is worth something.

A few downsides:

  • The $5 service charge means you really shouldn’t be using this for small orders, maybe just for your “large weekly orders”.
  • The following is from the FAQ for the Loblaws service, “When your order is prepared, the selected payment method will be authorized for up to 125% of the order total to accommodate updates to your order. If you choose another method of payment when you pick up your order, the authorization will remain on your card until it is expired by your bank (typically 3 – 7 days).“. That really sucks, so don’t change payment methods

Has anybody else tried this out? What are your opinions?


{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Chris Brugman January 14, 2016, 10:12 AM

    I have been using this service for about a year now. I really like the idea. I think Loblaws still has some work to do on the actual system. I find the site slow and clunky. I think they should have spent less time making it look flashy and more time just making it bulletproof and user friendly. I have been the victim of a number of weird glitches and unplaced orders. I also found out the hard way that if you place an order at the wrong store and cancel it, there is a restocking fee. I then called customer service and got my money back 😉

    I have never had a problem with the service staff or quality of the food / substitutions. I also received quite a few free samples. Everything from a can of pop to paper towels. This is something nice that you never get when going into the store.

    Pro tip: after they load your food you can leave your car in their special parking and hit up the Wine Rack before you leave 😉

  • Kathy Your Net Worth Manager January 14, 2016, 9:39 AM

    We moved to Canada from England in 2004 and then were using it with Tesco, similar in size to Canadian Super Store. I liked the fact you could save your regular list and go in and just uncheck what you didn’t want , peruse the special offers etc.
    You are correct it did stop impulse buying.
    They delivered in refrigerated trucks and carried it to the door step so it was great for bulky items as well.
    Downside: if you ordered to make a specific recipe and the thing was out of stock your meal plan was shot. You could select an option make substitutions and they would put anther brand or packet size in. You didn’t know until it arrived but you could make the driver take it back.
    I also found fruit and vegetables if you are fussy about ripeness it didn’t work. i.e. yellow or green bananas but you learnt and just didn’t put them on the order. I really miss that service.

    • bigcajunman January 14, 2016, 9:52 AM

      Interesting, currently Loblaws and Wal-Mart it is a “pick up” service, where they bring it out to you. I remember Groceries.com in the early 2000 that flopped on the US West Coast (part of the Dot Com bubble).

      • Kathy Your Net Worth Manager January 14, 2016, 9:58 AM

        I don’t know how it was profitable , they did start charging more for evenings etc, like an Uber pricing system. Parking in England was so awful i would have paid a lot more than charged. The other difference was some stores gave you a hand scanner and you scanned shopping and packed it as you went round. No unpack and repack at check out. About 1 in 8 time you got selected for a rescan, to check for shop lifting I assume.
        I would rather live in Canada !


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