Online shopping a way of the world

16:00, Mar 07 2014

Redwood woman Apryl Anthony's grocery shopping takes her two minutes and 15 seconds. She timed it.

The 35-year-old self-employed mother started grocery shopping online, always in her fluffy dressing gown, about eight months ago.

The first few times were trial and error. Anthony once ordered 20 grams of tomatoes - two tomatoes - instead of 200 grams.

And then there was the time she ended up with one chicken breast; it was never going to feed a family of five.

"I'm a pro at it now. What I find is doing shopping online helps me stick to our budget and buy stuff we need instead of impulse buys. I'm saving a lot of time and a lot of money."

Rolleston woman Rachel Brown's online grocery shopping started with a broken sternum. The 42-year-old mother-of-two suffered the injury in a car accident three years ago - "I couldn't lift the bags" - and has been buying online ever since.


Brown now pays a "nominal" fee for someone to select the items for her in store and picks up the groceries from a depot in Rolleston.

"It's a heck of a lot easier than taking the children," she says.

Kirwee woman Melissa Watts, a 34-year-old with two young daughters, has done her grocery shopping from the comfort of her living room for about three years.

"I sit down with a recipe book and plan out meals for the week. It makes us eat much healthier," she says.

A spokeswoman for Progressive-owned Countdown says an increase in people buying things such as flights, tickets for events and clothes on the web "means it's fast becoming the norm to order groceries online too".

"We're seeing double-digit growth in customers using the service year on year," she says.

Countdown has been in the business of online grocery shopping for the past 15 years. It is the only supermarket to provide the service nationally.

Customers can tailor their orders from how ripe they want their bananas to where they want their orders dropped off. The site also remembers their shopping history and favourite products.

In 2012, Countdown released a shopping app for iPhone and Android users. It has been downloaded 260,000 times in the past 18 months.

Foodstuffs NZ stores do not offer online shopping on a national basis, but in Wellington, Foodstuffs-owned New World Thorndon is piloting an online grocery shopping service.

Foodstuffs NZ group general manager marketing Steve Bayliss says the group expects to "begin a staged rollout to other stores in the coming months" in partnership with United States-based company MyWebGrocer.

It's not only large supermarket chains who are jumping on the bandwagon either, with more boutique businesses such as the Mediterranean Food Company and Guruji Indian Supermarket - both in Christchurch - doing the same.

A social enterprise set up after the region's earthquakes, Garden City 2.0, also runs a food-bag delivery service with products available online from small farms, urban food producers and artisans.

Mediterranean Food Company owner Lisa Crotty says the store set up an online shopping service about five years ago.

"Every year we get more and more online sales, [but] it's probably growing at a similar rate that the store is anyway . . . rather than a switch over," she says.

"We get a lot of North Island customers who just want a few bits and pieces they find hard to find and then it's worth paying the freight costs."

Crotty says most customers, however, still prefer the tactile experience of being able to pick up products in store.

Anthony says while online marketplaces are fast becoming "the way of the world", old-school shoppers are easy to find.

"When I talk to my dad about it he looks at me like, ‘What?' He is very old-fashioned. He would rather go to the supermarket and have a look."

The Press