Online shopping

Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I used an online grocery shopping service in Perth called Electrolley.

The food was fresh but it didn’t do many deliveries to my suburb. It no longer operates and I always presumed it had been too ahead of its time.

A year or so back I started to use Coles Online and have found the service to be very good, complemented by a Twitter account where shoppers can and receive give instant feedback.

The advantages to shopping online are numerous – not having to take the kids to the shop, only buying what you need, being able to use shopping time to do something else, like, erm, washing the car.

The service also has its drawbacks  such as  out of stock items and not being able to check nutrition and ingredient information.

One of the main reasons I didn’t use the service every week was the delivery charge and the delivery windows. Sometimes by the time I had decided to shop online that week, there were no convenient delivery times left.

Coles has recently addressed this by introducing free delivery and also increasing the delivery windows to include Saturday afternoon to early evening.

I also discovered quite by chance that part of the underlying motivation for free delivery throughout Perth was probably the arrival on the scene of Woolworths Online.

The arrival of Woolworths a month or so ago has been very low-key. No TV ads, no email alerts, nothing in the sale catalogues. I even asked the Woolworths Everyday Rewards team on Twitter and got no response.

Today I got a flyer among some sale catalogues but there still wasn’t anything about the service in the weekly sale brochure.

I have also tried registering for Aussie Farmers Direct to no avail. Although I have seen them delivering in my suburb, I must live on the wrong side of it. I have entered my postcode, been told computer says no, been referred to customer service, only to get an email five days later to say computer still says no.

I discovered Woolworths had started delivery to my area simply by creating an account and entering my postcode and address. When it was approved and I got to the delivery window screen I was still doubtful so-called the customer service line to check.

Excited, I tried for about three weeks to use the service to no avail because I couldn’t find a suitable delivery window. So I continued to use Coles or physically go to the shops.

This week I have secured a delivery window so will be trying the Woolworth service for the first time. Already there are things about it that are inferior to Coles. Like selling brocoli by the piece? What’s with that – why can’t it be by the kilo? And bananas are sold by the kilo in the shops, not by banana like online.

Also, once the order is placed there doesn’t seem to be a way to add to it or change it. Coles lets you do that up to about 11pm the night before.

Coles gives a price estimate based on the fact it can’t tell you online exactly how much your fruit, veg and meat with weigh. I have an apparently exact total from Woolworths and fear I’ll probably get about 400g of gravy beef rather than 500g.

So why don’t I stick with Coles all the time? Good question. Dumb answer – I like collecting Everyday Rewards linked to Qantas Frequent Flyer. No matter how much I buy, I  just don’t ever seem to accumulate Flybuys points from Coles – reminding me of a certain amusing bank advert.

Like many working parents, online shopping is going to become an  increasingly invaluable part of keeping my sanity and my pantry stocked.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shop in one store alone, simply because not one store stocks everything I need.

Only IGA stocks Billington’s dark muscovado sugar, Nemar’s natural coloured 100s and 1000s and Eta 5 Star margarine – a staple for my daughter who has dairy allergies. IGA also usually has the best milk specials.

So my independent grocer really doesn’t have too much to fear from the multinational with the fleets of refrigerated trucks.

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