Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Online buying and getting change

Ordering stuff online is now huge, because it’s easier, cheaper, or takes less time. But there have been changes in recent years, things we may miss if we don’t order often. Even grocery stores can change.

Years ago, I’d order groceries online whenever I got busy with work. Going to the store, shopping, and driving home all took time, and the delivery fee was often less than the value of my time lost. Things have changed a bit since then, and the caption on my Instagram photo above talks about the most visible: The bags. There were others.

As has always been the case, the website for ordering keeps lists—orders I’ve placed in the past, the things I usually buy in store, personal lists I make and store online. Although a little creepy, it’s also incredibly handy for making sure I don’t forget any of the things I routinely buy. I can always add other items, of course. When I was done placing my order (using the "Favourites" list, I noticed a note about the reusable bags, so I was expecting to see that today.

What I wasn’t expecting is that I got a text this morning tell me, “you order is on the way and be at your door shortly.” I don’t remember the website saying anything about text alerts, but I was glad for it—and wished I’d known about it beforehand. If I had, I’d have waited to open the gates over the driveway until then, rather than at the start of the delivery period I’d ordered (shoppers specify a two and a half hour period during which their order will be delivered). Now that I know they do that, I can do things differently next time.

The order showed up around 25 minutes after I received the text, which suggests it was sent as the truck was leaving the store (it takes about 25 minutes, give or take, to drive the distance). I presume it’s automated based on when the order is scanned as leaving the store, but I don’t know.

The last time I ordered years ago, none of this was true: They still used ordinary single-use shopping bags and there was no text alert. The system is much better now.

I also had a thought during all this. I saved, as I said in the caption, at least an hour and a half of my time by ordering online, something that fully justified the low delivery fee. However, I wondered if having a truck bring several orders to our area might be more fuel-efficient than us all driving separately to do our shopping. One truck would use a certain amount of fuel, probably more than a single car would, but less than all of us combined would use. That would means less pollution overall, and even (somewhat) less wear on the roads (and our cars, too, actually). So, could it be that ordering online might actually be greener than going and doing it in person? I think it’s certainly possible. At any rate, it provides employment for the people who pick and pack the orders and deliver them, and that’s good.

I ordered online because it saved me a LOT of time. It turns out that there are other benefits, too. That’s kind of nice.


rogerogreen said...

I know this exists here, but it's hardly prevalent yet. Maybe when I get older..., but the local grocery is three blocks away, and I have a sturdy cart. ..

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I was first really interested in this back in the early/mid 1990s when the old online service Prodigy offered it with Chicago supermarket chain, Jewel. I don't remember any details, except that it was very hard to actually use (that and online banking were the only reasons I tried Prodigy; I didn't last long).

I used online grocery shopping a LOT in the past, and for similar reasons as this time. The only reason I stopped was that the nearest Countdown grocery store was maybe a ten minute drive if the lights were red, so it seemed silly to order online. When the nearest store is 25 minutes away, however, the time saving becomes a real factor.

Interestng thing about carts. They were VERY common in Chicago, and the shopping trolleys all had a hook on the front to carry the cart. There's nothing like that here. The only ones I've seen are the ones that look a little like a mini-golf bag, I guess, the sort that little old ladies might use. In fact, I've only ever seen little old ladies use them. In other words, it's just not the done thing here, even when one lives within walking distance of a grocery store. Maybe not enough of us do?