Many of us have refrained from visiting physical stores in the last few months and have turned to online shopping to reduce our risk of contact with the coronavirus.
Whether it is the convenience, the sheer worry about the efficacy of sanitization practices or other shoppers' behaviors, keeping trips to supermarkets and the alike have been kept to a minimum. Especially for those living in metropolises like Istanbul, consumers have just about every grocery delivery service under the sun at their disposal almost 24/7.
However, this new virtual shopping habit is significantly changing how consumers budget, and somethings may not add up at the end of the month. That can mostly be attributed to new grocery-related expenses such as delivery fees. Though if you live far from the nearest store this could be an advantage, not to mention save you valuable time.
Online ordering also helps the consumer be more aware and deliberate regarding what they buy, so it could be easier to see what you need but extra costs can add up quickly. So here are some tips from personal financial advice site NerdWallet on ways to keep your budget intact.
You could pay more online than in the store for the exact same item. That’s because some delivery services, or the retailers they partner with, inflate grocery prices to cover fulfillment costs.
Same-day delivery can also expect to pay more to compensate for the short notice. So plan that you will spend a few extra bucks every time you buy groceries online.
At the grocery store, the price you see is typically the price you pay. But online, fees for delivery, service, memberships and subscriptions could be tacked onto your bill. Extra charges could range from a couple of dollars for a service fee to dozens for a premium membership.
"You’re spending more money because it’s a service,” says Jennifer Weber, a certified financial planner in Lake Success, New York.
How you use that service can also affect the cost. Often, you’ll pay a premium for quicker or high-demand delivery times. Then, there are tips. Tipping, while optional, is a simple way to support the workers risking their health to provide you with an essential service.
Items could be unexpectedly out-of-stock, incorrect or missing from your delivery. Certain services allow substitutions for unavailable inventory. However, that can come at a higher cost. When the conventional brands are sold out, you may end up with the organic kind with a higher price tag.
When using services that charge for pricier replacements, consider opting out of automatic substitutions or allocating extra money toward your grocery budget as a cushion. Inspect orders closely upon arrival as well and notify the company if you’re charged for forgotten or incorrect items.
Getting your groceries while sitting in front of your screen isn’t all bad news for your wallet: 46% of consumers say they’ve made fewer impulse purchases since shifting to online grocery shopping in the spring, according to a survey from Magid, a business strategy and research company.
"Careful planning and buying only what you intend to is a little bit easier to do online,” says Steve Caine, a partner with the retail practice of Bain and Company, a management consulting firm.
"You don’t get influenced quite the same way as you do when you’re walking through a store.”
With no enticing candy displays or cleverly arranged shelves to stroll past, you might fill your cart with fewer items. Plus, Caine says shopping online allows you to better keep a "running total” of your purchase, while in the store, you usually don’t know until checkout.
3 ways to watch your budget
Online grocery shopping is here to stay for the foreseeable future. These strategies can reduce the strain on your budget.
- Make a list: Check your fridge or pantry and jot down what you need for the week. "You can think ahead and say, ‘I want to spend $100 or $50.’ Then, you can do price comparisons for those items,” Weber says.
- Compare grocery services: Try building a basket on a few different sites to see which offers the lowest price on items. Explore all the costs involved and look for coupons or promotions before checkout.
- Be flexible: Choosing curbside pickup can help you skip delivery fees, tips and other charges. But if you opt for delivery, note that one-hour or same-day windows could be more expensive. Giving yourself time to plan and pushing it to next-day or two-day delivery can reduce the cost, Caine said.