One day last week I (foolishly) decided to bring my three children to the supermarket on the way home from school, as I only needed two items, bread and carrots. It would be grand I told myself.
It wasn’t. Three children. Two on foot, the other safely in her car seat in the trolley.
The five year old met a schoolfriend and they did races up and down the aisles. The three year old helped himself to pick and mix. The boys added some products of their own to the trolley. Then they ran away and pretended to be lost and started calling me “Mam, Mam I don’t know where you are”. (cue glares from fellow shoppers).
I herded them to the till, bread and carrots safely in the trolley among their treats. The baby woke up. She didn’t like the supermarket, so I had to take her out of the seat and carry her while unpacking the trolley.
I packed my bags, with the baby in my arms, glancing over to see the boys were sitting on top of the Bob the Builder ride. Yes, ON TOP of it. On its roof.
I sweated. I told the boys that I was never bringing them to the supermarket again.
I got home and unpacked the bags. Lots of treats for Cathal’s birthday party (more on that later). Cake to eat watching the Great Irish Bake Off. No bread or carrots. I rang the supermarket as I remembered putting them on the belt at the till but no joy, I lost them somehow and my till receipt was missing too so I don’t know if I paid for them. Time to rethink dinner.
If the above tells anything, it’s that I am definitely a dream candidate for online shopping yet I’ve never been attracted to it. I tried it once before, but not for my weekly shop, just for some nappies and wipes on special offer (and some booze) as we got a free delivery coupon.
I love food, I enjoy choosing my own food, seeing new products and checking out the special offers. It’s a tactile experience for me. Now at the same time I don’t love packing and unpacking the trolley or the bags when I get home, or screeching my kids’ names telling them to come back/put that back/get DOWN from there RIGHT NOW/behave. So when the nice people at Tesco offered me a €50 online shop, to review the whole experience I jumped at the chance to give it a second go.
How does it work?
Starting out you’ll need to register with Tesco online and open an account, you can link it to your Tesco Clubcard and get points, but also this brings up your list of favourite items. I was delighted to see this feature but soon realised that it contained pages and pages of items, so it wasn’t as helpful as I had initially expected. I do notice a new “My Usuals” tab which might help with this, but you need to have done a few shops before it becomes helpful, so I’ll keep an eye o it.
The problem for me with online shopping is that I don’t really plan ahead much, things dawn on me as I walk up and down the aisles. I’ve a visual memory so sitting in front of a computer screen I found it hard to think of what I needed. Searching “peppers” on the mobile app returns 118 responses, searching “red peppers” returns 11. Walking to pick up the red peppers seemed easier. I persevered and had a look in the special offers section, the virtual aisle ends.
I went for what I considered our usuals- ham, cheese, bread, Ben and Jerry’s icecream (well, it was my duty to check that frozen produce arrived still frozen for the purposes of the review, ahem) yogurt, some vegetables, cakes, that sort of thing.
I got better on the searching after the peppers debacle and got a speed up. Then something child related happened, I don’t remember what, so I exited and saved later, and was able to pick up the same trolley on my phone through the Tesco app. Excellent stuff. I think I’d be more likely to use the phone app than the desktop version as I spend much more of my online life on my smartphone.
I thought it was pretty nifty that if you miss an offer, eg by buying 2 of something where the 3rd would be free you get an error message, so extra yogurt
I finished my shop a few days after I started it, switching between mobile phone and laptop and getting interrupted a lot.
I chose my delivery slot after much deliberation and paid €7.50 as it was on a Sunday. The delivery slots are two hours in duration and vary in price, and run up to late at night (so your shopping could be booked to arrive when the kids are asleep, or in bed at least). The IT gremlins acted up and I couldn’t manage to book the delivery slot on my phone so I had to go back to the laptop to do it which was irritating, but it got done. (I did utter swearwords a few times during the failed attempts on the phone before I got to the laptop).
Our delivery arrived about 15 minutes before the end of our slot. and taking delivery was straightforward, the driver carried the box of groceries to the kitchen table and we emptied it. He was a pleasant fellow and made smalltalk. I was surprised that we didn’t check off each item, but he did say if there was any problem to give them a call. He pointed out that there were two items that they couldn’t deliver, a sliced pan and some mini cupcakes. This was when the importance of the “allow substitutions” button dawned on me. If I had been without transport and no bread had arrived I’d have been stuck for bread. (and minicupcakes, but they were marginally less important). I am destined not to have bread (see first paragraph).
So, having tried the online shopping experience, am I likely to use it again?
Yes, but probably not while I am on maternity leave, I need the human interaction of going out and chatting to the checkout lady, and am willing to take on the experiences like the one above in exchange for that.
There are obvious advantages: Tantrums can be avoided or at least contained at home, you don’t have to pack the bags, the shopping comes to you. Also I found that without the distraction of the kids I suddenly become more price aware, comparing sizes and weights as it’s there on the screen in front of you and it’s definitely much easier to keep a track of your food budget, so no nasty surprises at the checkout. If you live any distance from a supermarket, or if you don’t have transport it’s ideal.
But on the flipside, you have to be very organised to do your online shop, and not need anything urgently. I live in a town that is well served by supermarkets, with the big three and the two German discounters all within five minutes’ drive of my house, so the idea of waiting til tomorrow afternoon to get something that I need now is hard to embrace. Right now I have time though, when I’m working and commuting again I do think that I will use it.
Now, if only someone would come to put the shopping away. And cook the food. And clean the bathroom and mop the floors while they’re here..
What would make you do online shopping? Here a discount code if you want to give it a whirl yourself:
€20 off when you spend €60 or more on your first online grocery shop at Tesco.ie
Use eCoupon code: RXXF4NC at the checkout, the offer is valid until 20th October 2013.
Full terms and conditions can be found at www.tesco.ie
Disclosure: I received a free €50 Tesco online shopping voucher in order to complete this review. I paid for delivery myself. This review is my honest opinion of the service.