The Cost of Convenience

This week, Boise, ID, (where my daughter lives) received huge amounts of snow which they are ill-equipped to handle…they have a limited number of snow plows which are used to clear only the major highways. Most snow events melt in less than 8 hours so residential streets are left to melt, which typically isn’t an issue. Following this huge snow event, however, my daughter has been unable to get to the grocery store; they have been without milk for 4 days now AND more snow and freezing rain is predicted for tomorrow. This is a problem for someone with 2 little ones at home.

Now desperate, my daughter has begun checking out grocery-delivery services. For an order of $150 or more, one store will deliver for a $6.95 fee if you want the groceries delivered in a one-hour window.  A 2-hour delivery window costs $3.95; and a 4-hour window is only $2.95. If your order is less than $150, the fee is $9.95.  

Another store in her area offers a grocery pick-up service for $5. You order and pay for your groceries online and pick your groceries up, curb-side…never setting a foot in the store.

My daughter sees other benefits, besides convenience, and thinks this way of shopping could become a habit. With 2 little ones sitting in the cart when she shops, she is more likely to make unplanned purchases; that doesn’t occur when ordering groceries for delivery. The app used to order the groceries has a bar code scanner so as items are used at home, you can create your shopping list by scanning the can label before tossing it in the recycle bin.  The app easily allows you to compare prices and shop by aisle. A search for canned tomatoes will show you all choices/brands with a per unit price displayed. Redeeming coupons is as easy as scanning their bar codes. The app also tracks frequently purchased items for quick reference.  

These two store chains are typically more expensive than the huge deep discount store (which is like a big warehouse where product is in boxes on the shelves and you bag your own groceries). My daughter does not choose to shop there because of the challenge of shopping with two little ones in tow. So, since she has already made the decision to shop at the more expensive store, why not take advantage of the delivery service? (especially now that her car is stuck in 15” of snow at the bottom of her driveway!)  What services in your community do you find available and worth the extra cost?

Brenda Schmitt

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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2 thoughts on “The Cost of Convenience

  1. I appreciate the comment about how impulse buying is influenced by the online purchases versus at the grocery store. I was a member of an online food cooperative. We ordered our items twice a month and went to a central pickup point to get our order. I didn’t think about how much I Wasn’t buying by being in the store. Plus, I got to visit with vendors and became friends with other members of the co-op.

  2. I ran into a women this week, whose job at a local grocery is to fill online orders. She informed me that for orders over $100, her store will deliver, for FREE, to my little community 25 miles away! When I shared my plan of serving the elderly in my community by collecting orders from those unable to drive, which would ensure we had a $100 order – qualifying for free deliver, she asked me to not place the order on Mondays when she worked…$100 are a lot of work to fill. I am excited to know this is a way to meet the nutritional needs of the elderly in our little town!

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