Ordering Groceries Online: How It Works In Decatur, IL
If you had a penny for every time you've gone to the grocery store, you'd be rich - right? They say death and taxes are the only things you can be sure of in life, but buying groceries should probably be added to that statement.
As with everything else, grocery shopping is changing with the times. Most big chain grocery stores offer curbside pickup. All you have to do is go online, place and pay for your order, select a convenient time, and pick up your groceries. It really is that simple.
With the added hassle of social distancing and wearing masks, shopping for groceries online is more attractive than ever.
To make things even easier, some stores will deliver groceries right to your door. In Decatur, IL, you have three good online grocery shopping options: Walmart, Kroger, and Aldi.
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Pros and Cons of Online Grocery Shopping
As with anything you do in life, there are positives and negatives. The same is true for shopping for your groceries online. Let's look at the general pros and cons of online shopping before discussing what each store has to offer.
Ordering groceries online is convenient and easy once you get the hang of it. Here are six benefits to ordering digitally versus going into the store yourself:
- Shop at your convenience - you can place your order any time of the day or night.
- Check your inventory - make sure you have everything you need.
- Stick to your list - no impulse buying.
- Set the time for pickup - you can schedule the time you want to pick up your groceries.
- Cuts down on shopping time - it takes less time to fill your online cart than to go through the store.
- Communication - the store usually communicates with you via text or email about when your order is ready.
When you order online, you also don’t have to go through the check-out line, which tempts you with snacks, candy bars, and little things you don’t need.
How many times have you gotten to the grocery store just to realize your list is still on the counter at home? That doesn’t happen when you shop online, but the flip side is you have to plan ahead – typically at least a day in advance. Here are six downsides to ordering groceries online:
- Planning - you have to plan to shop online and pick up your groceries on time.
- Perfect produce and cuts of meat - you don't get to pick your idea of the perfect banana or ribeye. The shoppers try to pick good items for you, but they might not always have the same sense of perfection.
- Missing items - you might not get everything on your list due to out of stock items.
- Fees - some stores charge for their curbside service and charge delivery fees.
- Substitutions - some stores give you a choice to allow an associate to make substitutions if necessary (which you may or may not be happy with), but some stores do not offer that option.
- Can't grab final sale or discounted items - a lot of shoppers like to find discounted meats or forage through the rack of discounted baked goods – you can't do that when you order pickup or delivery.
Shopping online requires organization and planning, but many still prefer this over going to the store; at least part of the time.
Grocery Stores in Decatur, IL Offering Curbside Service
Many large grocery store chains offer grocery pick up or even delivery. Each one does business a little differently, so be sure you check out their policies and procedures.
For Walmart, Kroger, and Aldi's, you will first create an account online and download the app to your smartphone. This sounds like a hassle, but both steps are quick and easy for all three stores. They can store your debit or credit card number to make the ordering process even easier.
Having the app is nice because you can order your groceries right from your phone no matter where you are. Waiting at the dentist's office? Order your groceries. Are you watching baseball practice for the third time this week? Place your grocery order and pick it up on the way home.
Let's take a look at some specifics for each of these stores so you'll know what to expect.
Walmart has stores in all 50 states with curbside and delivery available in most locations. The Walmarts in Decatur, IL offer both of these services from all locations.
The Walmart shopping page is easy to navigate because everything is in categories, and you don't have to search through piles of items to find what's on your list. You can shop for almost anything related to groceries, health supplies, beauty aids, pet food and supplies, and other everyday household items.
The shopping process is pretty simple as well. Once you’ve filled your cart with everything you need, you’ll reserve a time slot for pick up, and they'll text you when your order is ready.
Occasionally, they won't have an item you requested; however, they will make substitutions if you choose this option. If you want to allow changes, you’ll be charged the lower price, even if the substituted product costs more.
When you arrive at the store, park in the designated spaces marked with orange signs, and check-in using the app. They’ll bring your groceries to the car and even load them for you.
A few important features for Walmart curbside:
- Pickup service is free, but there’s a $35 minimum purchase
- Your order can be ready within 4 hours of submission
- If you order after 4:00 pm, it won't be ready until the next day
- Mobile check-in is available with the Walmart Grocery app
- Allows for substitutions if you choose this option
Bethany Force, a busy mother of three, uses Walmart online and enjoys it: "I don't have to schlep my three kids through the stores and worry about social distancing and masks." However, she does state that it’s hard to plan ahead sometimes.
Walmart delivery is also an option, and it’s available in the Decatur area. The online ordering process is the same as pickup, but instead of picking up the groceries, they’ll deliver them to you for a fee.
Walmart typically charges a grocery delivery fee between $7.95-$9.95 per order. They have recently started a service called Delivery Unlimited, which lets you pay a flat fee of $12.95 per month or $98 per year.
Delivery might be perfect for you, depending on your circumstances.
Kroger Pickup is another online shopping option in Decatur, IL. Kroger offers curbside pickup and delivery.
You can order anything that Kroger has to offer in their store online or through the app. Their website is easy to manage, making the ordering process quick and straightforward.
Simply fill your cart with the items you need and schedule a convenient pickup time for you.
You can choose to allow substitutions for items that may be out of stock. There’s a place to check per item for substitutions. If you order a specific item that you don't want to be substituted, just click no substitutions.
If Kroger does make substitutions, they'll charge the lower price even if you received the higher-priced item. The sales associate will go over your order with you when you pick it up, and you have the opportunity to refuse any substitutions made at that point, and your bill will be adjusted.
A few important features for Kroger Pickup:
- Pickup service costs $4.95 per order unless the order total is over $100, then it’s free
- There’s no minimum purchase
- Select the day and time to pick up your order
- Your order can be modified up until the night before your order is scheduled for pickup
- Mobile check-in is available through the Kroger Pickup app
- Allows for substitutions
Ronald Schmitz, a grandfather in his 80s, is pleased with Kroger's Pickup service: "We use Kroger Pickup. It's a really good service, and we like that they use young people to pick the order."
Kroger offers delivery service for your online grocery order, too. There’s a flat fee of $9.95 for each delivery.
If you wish to have your groceries delivered, choose the delivery option online or on the app – you can even select a no contact delivery, which is an excellent option these days.
Aldi's online shopping is a little different than Walmart or Kroger. Aldi offers delivery through Instacart. Instacart is a service that Aldi uses, so some fees apply.
Instacart uses personal shoppers to shop for you. These shoppers will then deliver your order to you. Instacart keeps in touch with you through the entire shopping process.
They alert you when they receive your order, and you can keep track of the shopping process, which allows you to add or delete items while your shopper is gathering items. If an item is unavailable, you can give your shopper permission to substitute or choose a different product yourself.
You’ll get an alert when the checkout process is completed with an estimated delivery time. Then, you can track your shopper on a map until they arrive at your home.
At check out, you’ll notice there is a service fee and a delivery tip. The service fee is 5% of the order total, or a $2 minimum. This fee is set and can't be changed by you. However, the delivery tip is optional and is also set at 5% of the order total, but you can change it or even choose not to include a tip.
When you place your order, it’ll tell you when delivery is available, usually within two hours. Of course, you can choose a time that is convenient for you.
You can also choose to pick up your order, but for the Decatur area, orders must be picked up at the store in Springfield or Normal, and pick up isn't available until the following day on most orders.
Even though Aldi's process is different from the other two stores, it has some positives. Linda Ippel, Choir Director and Staff Musician at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Decatur, says she has used Instacart delivery from Aldi with great results.
With the threat of contracting COVID-19 in public places, online grocery shopping is a popular option.
Most people who use online grocery shopping will tell you it saves time and money, and who doesn't need more of both, right?
Shopping online gives you time to check and double-check you have everything you need, it keeps you out of crowds, and you can work it into your busy schedule. It also prevents you from impulse buying.
This not only saves you money, but it could prove to be much healthier. It's a lot easier to resist that chocolate covered sprinkle donut when it's not staring at you from the bakery case.
If you already shop online for your groceries, kudos to you. If not, now is the perfect time to give it a try. Choose your favorite store, and go for it!
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