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Online grocery shopping: a good idea?

Photo from

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A few of our readers have asked us about online grocery shopping, and whether we think it’s a good idea.  It’s a service I’ve only used myself a few times, as I like wandering in and out of shops and buying a few things at a time.  I didn’t have any problems with the service any time I used it, and found it convenient for bulky goods. Tesco and Superquinn both offer online grocery shopping in Ireland.


  • You’re less likely to absently throw in a load of things that you don’t need, something many of us do when we’re pushing a trolley ar0und a supermarket.
  • It’s a great opportunity to stock up on bulky or heavy goods that you might have trouble bringing home from the shops in one trip. It’s particularly great for people who don’t drive.


  • It can be quite time-consuming: you do need to enter alternative products in case what you want is out of stock. You can’t always trust the supermarkets to match your choice with a similar product: our own Maria Crispy once got a €30 salmon casually substituted for one that should have cost €15, and was of course charged the full price. The Guardian has a piece with some hilarious stories about ridiculous substitutions – such as a bottle of white Bordeaux replaced with a pack of sweetcorn.  However it’s still less time-consuming than making the trip to the supermarket, wandering around in a daze and then queuing at the checkout.
  • I’ve heard from people that regularly use this service that it’s not a great source for fresh fruit and veg – some retailers will use it as an opportunity to get rid of overripe or damaged fruit.
  • I’ve also heard that delivery can be erratic, with drivers failing to show up at the promised time.
  • The delivery charges can be high, although if you time it right there can be deals for free or cheap delivery.

What do you think of online grocery shopping? Which retailer do you find best?  And if any readers work in the industry, I’m really interested to know how the supermarkets make money out of this.


  1. I am pro the idea but con the reality.

    I have tried using Tesco’s service several times. Twice, I was charged for items that weren’t delivered and no substitution was supplied. I rang the hotline- rang and rang and rang- and I emailed customer support- emailed and emailed and emailed!- and nothing ever came of it.

    F*ck you, Tesco

  2. Ive never used online grocery shopping but whats the deal with substitutions; do you have to accept them?

  3. The thing is by the time you realise what’s missing, the driver is long gone. I’d be weary of use by dates too. I don’t want to shop online every other day to have fresh products.

  4. I dont have a car so I avail when theres free delivery for heavy and bulky stuff such as beers, washing powder or loo roll. Much prefer to wander around the shop myself for other items especially fresh produce.

  5. I’ve only used Absolutely Organic. Because of the mark-up on organic produce, they’re much pricier than grocery stores, so I only use them as a treat. That said, compared to other organic grocers, they’re fairly decent value, and they’re the only organic grocer where I notice any difference in the freshness or tastiness of their veg. They also do free delivery inside the M50.

    They have a reasonable basket deal, where they’ll put together a variety of fruit and veg for around €25, it was always enough for myself and my partner for a week, and sometimes we even had to throw together a mishmash salad at the end of the week to use up the leftovers. €25 a week is about twice what I would spend shopping daily at Moore St, but there is a distinctive difference in quality and having it delivered every week was definitely convenient when I didn’t work in the city centre.

  6. I’ve used Superquinn and Tesco online shopping but I’ve pretty much given up on both of them:

    1. The people packing your order don’t give a toss – fruit and veg is often squashed and bruised, stuff is often right at its use-by date (e.g. 10 yoghurts with a use-by date of tomorrow), substitutions are often bizarre.
    2. Its not actually that much quicker than going to the store as the websites are so badly laid out, it makes it very difficult to find what you want.
    3. Products that you know they have in the store, are not listed on the website.
    4. Its often very difficult to identify a particular product from name alone (esp things like Bread, Frozen Veg etc) – why not include a picture damnit!
    5. Special offers that are available on the website will often have expired by the time they are picking your shopping, but theres no way of seeing what special offers are available on the day.
    6. It often arrives badly packed (eg raw chicken next to fresh fruit, potatoes on top of bananas etc) – Tesco were particularly bad for this.

  7. I’m pro online shopping. I live in Dublin city centre and there are plenty of places where I can get fresh produce.

    However for bulky or non fresh goods, online shopping is the way to go.

    First of all, the online shopping comes from Tesco’s massive Clarehall store which has a much broader selection than any city centre store.

    Secondly, because all you see is product name, price and weight, you are not distracted by fancy advertising and marketing ploys. Anytime I go into Superquinn to do a shop I come out with a whole load of junk I don’t need. Not so with online shopping.

    Thridly, it’s unbelievably quick. Once you have done your first shop. You can just repeat the same basket again in in 5 seconds. The first time is slow tho. What I recommend is to do a normal full shop in Tesco and keep your receipt. Then the following week, just type all that into the website and it will be saved from then on.

    Fourth, your basket is saved even if you don’t check out your items. I normally get my shopping delivered on a Monday evening and put the order through at the weekend. However, if on a Tuesday I realise I am low on Salt, I can add it to my basket then and it will stay there until I checkout or remove it.

    With regards to the issue of substitutions. When the shop arrives you need to look at the list in the drivers company in case there were any substitutions. If there were and you are not happy, then the driver takes them back no questions asked.

    So in summary, it’s great for everything bar things that need to be very fresh. I don’t get things like fish or plums from Tesco online. But I get nearly everything else.

  8. I stumbled upon this online grocery shopping at the right time as I’ve just put in my very first order with ystrdy night (expecting it this evening). The main two reasons..
    1. There is a current promotion of Eur 10 off total bill through online shopping
    2. There are things like lemons, limes, herbs displayed at cheaper price tags as compared to walk in TEsco store which I think is weird..
    I shall update here again with the quality of my delivery later on this evening.. cheers!

  9. My experience mirrors Liam’s almost exactly. Entirely aggravating. It’s put me off shopping in their stores as well.

    When Tesco runs their one cent delivery special I’ll order bottled waters and juices, laundry soap, dish liquid, kitchen roll, and other bulky or heavy items. I will never order anything I intend to eat online.

  10. I’ve only used Tesco so far and I am very happy with the service. Vegetables and fruits are always fresh, they’ve never given me overripe or damaged goods. The drivers (at least the one I met so far) are always on time and very friendly.

    I agree with the issue of substitution: once I had order size 2 nappies and ended up with size 3 nappies… didn’t work so well of course. But you always have the choice to leave a note when you order and give them an alternative AND you can always ask them to take it back, you won’t get charged. And it isn’t true that you get charged full price if they substitute with a cheaper product. You just pay the current price of the product, that’s it.

    Also, it saves all the products in your orders in your favorite. It makes the whole process very quick.

    I don’t drive, don’t have a car and I don’t enjoy grocery shopping… so online is good for people like me.

  11. In continuation of my earlier post to Tesco online shopping delivery…
    I actually was anticipating the worst for the delivered good, was in fear the fresh produce ordered would be squashed and bruised…To my surprise, the goods were all good and fresh. Only one substitued made.

    However, the list I got from the driver shows Eur 10 more than the total I expected at the time of ordering online..on the paper, the price indicates ‘pre-promotions’..strange.

    I made a call to their hotline 2 times, gave up after 10 mins each..then I emailed them to enquired..till date I haven’t received and e-mail..

    So, now, I’ll see what is the outcome.

  12. i love Online shopping because it is so convenient and it is just one click away.-:,