Online Grocery Shopping

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Looking for the best online supermarket for your grocery shopping? Compare retailers with Canstar Blue’s customer review and ratings.

* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order.
Canstar Blue research finalised in November 2016, published in November 2016.

See Our Ratings Methodology.

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Most Satisfied Customers | Grocery Run

Grocery Run has beaten the big guys for online grocery shopping satisfaction, scoring five star reviews from customers for website navigation, customer service, special deals and value for money.

Grocery Run out in front for online satisfaction

At a time when you can order just about anything online, it makes sense that millions of Aussies are choosing to have their groceries delivered straight to their door, rather than visiting a physical supermarket. And the good news for consumers is that the online world has opened up increased competition, so you might even save a few bucks compared to what you would have spent in your local store. At this stage, just one in five online grocery shoppers (19%) do all of their shopping this way, but our latest survey suggests this number could double in time, with 40% of respondents indicating that they expect to do all of their grocery shopping online in future.

So, which online grocery store is rated highest in Australia? Our survey of more than 1,500 shoppers has pitted the two big boys – Coles and Woolworths – against each other, plus two other smaller, yet equally capable challengers, based on their online grocery offerings. As our star ratings table above shows, Grocery Run is rated highest overall, followed by Coles and Woolworths both in equal second spot and Aussie Farmers Direct in third.

With top marks across five different categories, this is a very strong performance from Grocery Run, which specialises in pantry, long-expiry food items, plus things like toiletries and cleaning products. Although Aussie Farmers Direct scored just three stars overall, it performed well with regards to product availability and delivery reliability. Woolworths was praised for having a good variety of products available, but Coles did not record any five-star reviews.

While this research has rated four major online grocery stores, it’s worth pointing out there are others around, most notably Grocery Shop and Kogan Pantry, so you have plenty of options to choose from. ALDI does not currently sell groceries online, but there are some delivery services that will go to ALDI, buy your groceries and deliver them for you, including ShopWings.

 

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Reasons for grocery shopping online

There are a few different reasons why consumers choose to buy their groceries online, rather than from a physical store, with convenience a significant factor. The online grocery shoppers who took part in our survey gave the following reasons for buying online:

  • 38% prefer the convenience of having their shopping delivered rather than taking it home themselves
  • 25% say they don’t have time to visit a supermarket
  • 16% believe shopping online works out cheaper overall
  • 7% just don’t enjoy visiting physical supermarkets
  • 13% gave other reasons

The survey found that Grocery Run customers are easily the most likely to find grocery shopping online cheaper (46%). This compares to just 13% of Woolworths shoppers, 16% of Coles shoppers and 15% of Aussie Farmers Direct customers. Coles customers are most likely to say they don’t have time to visit a store (30%), followed by Woolworths shoppers (25%), Aussie Farmers Direct customers (9%) and Grocery Run shoppers (7%).

Frustrations with online grocery shopping

Buying groceries online is not without its potential problems, from uncertain delivery times to not actually getting the items you wanted. However, from our survey of shoppers, there was a clear winner when it comes to frustrations:

  • Delivery costs: 26%
  • Not getting the items ordered: 16%
  • Delivery times (uncertain or unreliable): 14%
  • Freshness of food: 12%
  • Lack of special offers / promotions: 10%
  • Difficult to use websites: 8%
  • Temptation to spend more online: 7%
  • Other reasons: 7%

Grocery Run customers are most likely to name delivery costs as their greatest frustration (32%). This compares to 27% of both Coles and Woolworths shoppers, and just 12% of Aussie Farmers Direct customers. Coles customers are the most likely to complain about not receiving the items they wanted (19%), followed by Woolworths (16%), Aussie Farmers Direct (14%) and Grocery Run (5%).

Shopping loyalty

With increased grocery competition online, consumers are not restricted to just buying from their local supermarket, meaning many are trying new things. Our survey found that just 57% of online grocery shoppers always buy through the same website, while 33% use a different online store to the one they would normally visit in person. Coles customers are most likely to always use the same website for online grocery shopping (60%), followed by Woolworths (59%), Aussie Farmers Direct (53%) and Grocery Run (37%).

Getting value for money

When you buy groceries from a supermarket, the feeling of getting value for money or not is fairly straightforward, but when it comes to buying groceries online, you also need to consider the cost of delivery, which as we’ve found is a sore point for some consumers who took part in our survey.

Respondents spent an average of $123.51 on their most recent online grocery shop, including any delivery costs. This compares to an average spend of $133.78 reported by shoppers who bought their groceries in a physical store. This seems to add weight to the theory that shopping online allows you to focus on what you really need, rather than being distracted by in-store promotions. Indeed, 58% of survey respondents said they tend to spend less when buying online, instead of in store. The amount Aussies spend grocery shopping online has decreased from 12 months ago when the average amount was $129.81.

At an average of $131.99, Woolworths customers were found to spend the most online, followed by Coles shoppers $128.67. Those who shop with Aussie Farmers Direct ($93.21) and Grocery Run ($87.30) spend much less on average.

When it comes to getting value for money, Grocery Run achieved a five-star rating from customers, while Coles and Woolworths received four stars and Aussie Farmers Direct three stars.

Special offers

Everyone likes to bag a bargain at the supermarket, although it could mean you’ve been persuaded to buy something you may not have planned to! In regards to special deals online, Grocery Run was the only retailer to receive a five-star review. The big two both scored four stars and Aussie Farmers Direct got three stars.

Online grocery delivery costs and reliability

Delivery costs will vary between retailers, and often depending on your location, when you want your items delivered, and how much you spend. As a general guide:

  • Grocery Run has a flat rate delivery charge of $9.99 regardless of where you live in Australia or how much you spend. It uses Australia Post as a delivery partner and says customers should expect their orders to be dispatched within two business days.
  • Coles says delivery charges for most metro areas will cost from $4 to $14. However, consumers can get free delivery if they are happy to select an eight-hour window and spend a minimum of $150. There are a number of other options to get free delivery, including if you spend $100 or more after discounts and pay with a Coles MasterCard.
  • Woolworths customers will get free delivery if they spend over $300 on groceries. If you spend less, charges of $3 to $11 will apply. Woolworths also provides Delivery Saver packages which invite customers to purchase one of four delivery passes upfront to benefit from unlimited deliveries over their chosen period of time – from one month to one year.
  • Aussie Farmers Direct says delivery days and times will vary depending on location, however costs remain consistent at $2 for orders under $25. Orders over this amount come with free delivery. To keep your fresh produce fresh, customers will be given an esky with their first order and leave it outside their home to be stocked with goods for their following orders.

When it comes to home deliveries, Aussie Farmers Direct was the only retailer to score five stars for reliability, while Grocery Run and Coles both scored four stars and Woolworths got three stars.

Click and collect services

In addition to home deliveries, Coles and Woolworths both provide click and collect services whereby customers can order their groceries online and then collect them from a designated location – including the supermarket itself – instead of having to wait for delivery. However, minimum spend amounts are likely to apply.

Variety of products

Whether you’re buying in store or online, it’s good to be able to choose from a wide variety of products. In this regard, it seems bigger is better, with Coles and Woolworths rated higher than their smaller rivals. Coles was rated four stars for variety of products, while Woolworths scored five stars. Grocery Run and Aussie Farmers Direct both scored three stars.

Availability of products

As we’ve found, one of the major frustrations of online grocery shopping is you could find an item you had ordered has been replaced by another because it wasn’t available. This is one of the consequences of putting your shopping in someone else’s hands, and while you’re likely to receive a similar product instead, it’s nonetheless annoying. Aussie Farmers Direct was the only retailer to earn five stars for product availability, while Grocery Run received four stars. Coles and Woolworths both rated just three stars – suggesting that bigger isn’t always better.

Buying fresh food online

There’s no doubt that buying your groceries online can be very convenient, but it’s not a perfect shopping experience by any means. This is perhaps most evident when it comes to buying fresh food. Buying online takes some of the choice out of your hands. The advantage of visiting a physical supermarket is that you can look at and feel the fresh fruits and vegetables before purchasing – you can pick the perfect avocado for when you want it. This is clearly an issue for the online retailers. Some consumers are also wary of the quality of fresh produce. One in three survey respondents said they have been left dissatisfied with the quality of fresh food from an online delivery.

Website navigation

An online supermarket can have the best range of products going, but if its website experience isn’t up to scratch then it risks frustrating and losing consumers. For ease of website navigation, Grocery Run was judged to lead the way from Coles on four stars, and Woolworths and Aussie Farmers Direct on three stars.

Customer service

Consumers have every right to expect great customer service, whether they’re shopping in store or online. When it comes to online grocery shopping, it stands to reason that most people will only feel the need to pick up the phone or send an email when something has gone wrong. In this area, Grocery Run and Woolworths both rated five stars, with Coles scoring four stars and Aussie Farmers Direct three stars.

This review provides a guide to the online grocery shopping experiences of more than 1,500 Aussies. While we have rated four of the biggest operators, it’s important to remember that there are others available. And as online competition increases, it’s worth shopping around to find the best deals.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased groceries online in the last six months – in this case, 1,523 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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