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Grocery Shopping Online Review: Whole Foods and Stop & Shop

September 9, 2020   18 Comments

I tried grocery shopping online back in 2001. There was a start-up called Webvan and I got a kick out of having my groceries delivered.

Grocery Shopping Online Review: Whole Foods and Stop & Shop

Webvan went out of business and I went back to the grocery store. Now, almost 20 years later, I tried grocery shopping online again as a way to stay at home.

My family went on vacation and were asked to quarantine since we visited a state with more infections than Massachusetts. The good news was that we all tested negative for the virus, but during the time we were waiting for results (and staying at home) - I decided to try Whole Foods and Stop & Shop with my keyboard.

Whole Foods

Amazon Prime offers free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods market items. I am not joking. But, when I tried that (and I wanted my food in two hours) - the website informed me that “delivery was available tomorrow”.

Also, they offered me a $10 off coupon that did not work. Bait and switch?

Delivery was free but there was a suggestion to “tip your driver” which I did (so it isn’t exactly free).

How did it go?

The navigation and usability of the shopping on Amazon for food in Whole Foods was in a word - crappy. I found the whole experience to be annoying.

They will substitute items that are out of stock and give you 30 minutes to okay the change BUT they shopped for us at 6AM so we were asleep when they offered the changes. Oh well.

The delivery arrived an hour early and everything was there. The quality of the food was excellent but I didn’t like the use of these bags for my cold food.

I called Whole Foods and asked them if they would recycle these cooler bags. They told me that my recycler would take them. My trash recycler does not take them so these bags will go in the trash. Oh man.

How many of these are going in the trash on a daily basis if this is being used across the USA for delivery?

Overall, this food delivery service was much better than shopping at Whole Foods right now. You have to line up outside to get in and having the food delivered is so easy.

Stop & Shop

After the cooler bag fiasco, I decided to go and pick up my food from Stop & Shop. All of the food was packed in paper bags so I did manage to avoid too much trash.

The delivery fee is $10 and the pick-up fee is $3. There is an option to tip your driver as well (which I would do).

I feel like $3 to do all my shopping is a deal! (though not as big of a deal as Whole Foods -free!).

The website is really good and it makes a point of offering you the food that is on sale as well as coupons. You can easily find the best prices. Also, I could change my order until about 4 hours before they packed it. That was amazing because (of course) - I forgot some things.

On every item, they offered me a chance to allow them to substitute or not but they did not text me when they made a substitute.

I parked my car at this sign and called into the store. I felt a bit silly waiting in the parking lot for my food.

They loaded up my car after about five minutes and handed me a receipt which catalogued any substitutions and what they were unable to find.

A big problem for me was that they were out of scallions (no substitute for those!) and so I still had to go to a store to get them. Bummer!

When I got home, I unpacked the bags and found this:

I had ordered 1/2 pound of ginger and ended up with 2 pounds of ginger! But they only charge me for 1/2 pound so I decided to share the bounty with my neighbors.

I also ended up with 9 tomatoes instead of 3. Again, they only charged me for 3 so I am not sure what was going on.

I thought that this service was incredible. It saved me a ton of time as I always have a long list with odd stuff on it that I can never find - (for example Israeli couscous).

Why Do Your Grocery Shopping Online?

First, there is the fact that it saves you time at the store. But, you still have to take the time to create the list.

The good news is that having to create a list means you plan. Planning is key to healthy eating! Plan out five dinners, check your pantry, order what you don’t have.

You can see the deals while you shop and decide to stock up if there is a good one (like $1.99 per pound chicken breasts).

But one of the things that I love the most about online shopping is that you don’t end up buying the cookies, ice cream, potato chips, donuts…. if they are not on your list.

That deal at the end of the aisle? You don’t see it so you aren’t tempting to buy the two for one Cheetos. No candy in the check out aisle! No bakery next to the produce!

If you don’t see the enticing food - you won’t buy it.

The downside is that you might not get to choose exactly what you want (you might get a bruised apple or a small head of lettuce). I make changes in the store when I am shopping depending on what looks the freshest.

Once you shop online a couple of times - you have a list made and you don’t have to remake it. Buy the same milk, bananas, eggs, yogurt, bread….. every time.

Have you tried the grocery store online? How did it go? Are you a fan?


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18 Comments:

I found shopping online was great until I went to the pick up station and had to wait at least a half an hour for them to come out and load my car. I feel like I could’ve done a lot of grocery shopping in that half an hour

on September 10, 2020

I tried Whole Foods with 2 hour window. Yes, during the pandemic, the 2 hour service may fill up quickly. I ordered for the 3rd time yesterday and my order came in 1 hour! If you navigate you will find options and a pull down list to not allow substitutes or choose a suggested alternative. Im in a different state and they do take the bags for recycling and I also use them to pack my lunch. Give it another try!

on September 10, 2020

My daughter and daughter-in-law both use Walmart pick-up and it's worked out great for them. Such a time saver for busy moms/teachers.

on September 10, 2020

I’m so jealous that you have the option of Whole Foods for Amazon shopping! I live in upstate NY and our local grocery chain is blocking the building of our only Whole Foods market. So I’ve settled on Amazon Pantry and Thrive Market and venture to Trader Joe’s or our co-op for refrigerated items or produce. Plus I joined a CSA for produce while the season lasts. It’s a bit more work than a single on line order but I seem to have more time lately and it’s a great way to keep my pantry stocked.

on September 10, 2020

To avoid being in the grocery store since March, I also tried on-line ordering. By far, the best has been Walmart as long as available times for pickup are suitable. It can be frustrating to learn of an out of stock item at the last minute, so I have tried to avoid boxing myself into a particular recipe which would necessitate going to another store. The bonus of all this is just as you have stated - the benefit of planning for one to two weeks, and not shopping with my eyes, picking up those hard-to-resist snacks, bakery goods, and candy!

on September 10, 2020

I tried the delivery to the door from Aldi and BJ's early in the pandemic. However I have been using the pick up service at Kroger and Walmart pretty consistently since there are no fees (for now anyhow) or tips needed. Once they let me know my order is ready I have not had to wait long to actually have them load it into the car. I love that I can order non food items from Walmart and they will shop all over the store for me. I probably will continue. The produce is a hit or miss thing. I am very picky and some of what I have gotten is not what I would have bought, but other times it has been fabulous. I usually go into Aldi every week and get most of my produce there. I also use Crop Drop here that delivers fresh first class produce to my door each week. Then I fill in at Kroger (which takes coupons at the pick up area) or Walmart depending what is on the list that I could not get at Aldi. I think I have established a new routine that will work for me post pandemic as well.

on September 10, 2020

I had the opposite experience to yours, Lisa. Whole Foods was great, Stop and Shop less so. The Whole Foods substitution process was very good and allowed me to fulfill my order ( perhaps not with my first choice item, but a good alternative). With Stop and Shop I opted for them to substitute items, but my order came minus 9 items that they apparently didn’t have. My meal plans were messed up, for sure. I prefer Whole Foods. Have given up on Stop and Shop after two times with missing items.

on September 10, 2020

I've used Instacart a few times. You can pick from whatever local stores are in the app and get your groceries delivered within an hour or 2. The shoppers text you through the app when they need to inform you if any items are out of stock. They will send you pictures of possible substitutions and you can okay the subs from there. The delivery fee can be a bit pricey and I notice it varies if it is a busy day. They offer paid subscription for 9.99 a month that will waive the delivery fee.

on September 10, 2020

Being over 60, I love the fact I can be one of about 10 shoppers in the store at 6 am on Tuesdays at Walmart or one of the close Albertson's. I like grocery shopping and pick up things for my mom, who can't get out of assisted living. People think I'm crazy, but I think I'm lucky.

on September 10, 2020

As others have commented, my experience with Whole Foods has been great. You probably missed that each item gives you the opportunity to substitute and you pick exactly what you will substitute it with. To receive WF groceries with just a tip is completely worth it! My worst experience has been with Walmart. Items they said were in my bags, were not, they couldn't find my order, making me wait in the parking lot 1/2 hour, and then the person putting food in my car wasn't wearing a mask or gloves even though there is a state mandate.

on September 10, 2020

LOVE SHOPPING ONLINE: WILL NEVER STEP INSIDE A GROCERY STORE AGAIN

First try: Sprouts..not familiar with store, seemed pricey, order was ok. Meh!

Second try: Tom Thumb...could never get the online ordering to work. My $100 order ended up at $30 (below the required amount) because they were out of so many things.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, Forever try: Walmart. Familiar with the store, so easy to order what I wanted. Tried it for a month free & then got year of delivery $99. Very happy with everything I got. No impulse purchases, which is nice. Ordered cheese, which they said they didn't have and did NOT replace with a substitute (extra sharp shredded cheddar/Walmart brand...doubt if they were out of it). But still did a better job than if I shopped myself. Even ordered wine, which was nice but had to sign for it.

I'm ancient,so I am still quarantining. Even if I wasn't I would order online. One order was not in bags, but was spread out in front of my door....NOT GOOD, but they are learning, too. (They were wearing masks & gloves, at least the ones I saw. Most I didn't see, they just left the food).

on September 10, 2020

Our local (Texas) go-to grocery store is H-E-B. They have been offering "curbside" service for some time and I had been using it pre-pandemic while I was doing chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. It was a lifesaver! So when the pandemic came around I was an experienced user. It was crazy the first few weeks as slots filled up quickly. It definitely rewarded those of us who planned ahead and got our pick-up times in several days in advance. Thanks for your great columns - I love them!

on September 10, 2020

I use Walmart & Ralphs (part of Kroger family) for my pickup orders...haven't been in a market since Covid started. I like both these stores although Walmart is 16 miles away there are items I can only get there. Vons/Albertsons has a $35 minimum purchase, plus some sale items in their flyer are not available in pickups. I used Whole Foods pickup once...only $1.99 fee and I needed the item now...it was easy.

on September 10, 2020

Totally opposite experience. WF was wonderful. Great quality, timeline and accuracy of order. S+S was awful. Didn't give me sale price until I had to call CS - 40 min wait but I waited a day and was connected quickly. Wrong items, poor quality and I did pick up - hassle.

on September 10, 2020

I've been using Amazon/Whole Foods since mid March. I have only been grocery shopping once in August before a camping trip. I went to 3 stores and was surprised how stressful grocery shopping is now. I finally saw what everyone was complaining about on social media! The one direction aisles, things being out of stock, plexiglass everywhere.

After the camping trip I went back to my Whole Foods/Amazon online. I have only had one issue out of many deliveries and I choose carefully for the substitutions. I can say my only complaint is they often deliver my groceries early, ahead of the 2 hour window....sometimes even an hour ahead. That can be fine since I'm mostly home but one time I was coming back from an errand and had fresh flowers & frozen food melting on my front step!

I try to purchase what's on sale so the prices don't get too crazy since Whole Foods can be expensive. But since I'm an Amazon prime user and have the accounts linked I get additional sales pretty often. I also have the Amazon Visa so I get 5% back of all purchases as a credit on my Amazon prime account.

Whomever is picking out my produce all these months is excellent. They pick out pretty much what I would pick out, nothing bruised or damaged.

Overall I have become quite used to shopping online. I'm not sure I'll go back to store shopping soon. (although I sure miss Trader Joe's!)

I like shopping online particularly because I often need these obscure things on all these different aisles and just using the search bar for these things is so much easier than wandering around a store!

on September 10, 2020

We have Harris Teeter here which will deliver (although not to me) or you can pick up. I have had good luck with them. The produce has generally been good and they have called to substitute the few times I have ordered. I tried Sprouts but thought they were a little pricey and the quality wasn't great for the prices.

I did order WF for my Mom and Step Father to be delivered so they did not have to go out as they are 87 and 102 and there is a WF very near them (they are in a different state then I am). They were thrilled to get it quickly and the order was always fine. They ordered very little at a time though and nothing was too complicated. It was nice to know that they could get stuff without venturing out particularly at the beginning of the craziness.

on September 10, 2020

Tried Whole Foods delivery for the first time last week. Perfect—and I was happy to tip.

I also use Kroger for pickup and it’s OK, although so many items are out of stock these days and the pickup lines are long. But I can use coupons. (Kroger pickup is free now, but wasn’t before Covid.)

Walmart pickup is great—and has always been free.) Few items out of stock, but they do a great job with substitutions when need be (which you can always reject). The young people they’ve hired to bring groceries to the car are always very friendly and funny and seem to enjoy their jobs. At Kroger, the opposite is true.

I have a disability that often makes shopping on my own difficult, so I appreciate delivery and pickup options, pandemic or not. It’s a new world for sure!

on September 10, 2020

I don't have the Whole Foods Amazon option where I live, but I use ShopRite From Home - the shopping fee is only $4.99 if I pickup, and I think it's $7 more for delivery. They do a decent job of choosing produce for me too! And they text me substitutions before I pick up. Been using them for years, even before all this, and I'm very happy with the service!

on September 11, 2020


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