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Should You Offer Free Grocery Delivery?

Jan 22, 2021
Free Delivery Grocery Shopping

Free delivery has become a mainstay of the online shopping experience, to the point where a full 75% of consumers expect free delivery on orders under $50. Yet this statistic doesn’t tell the full story, as food and grocery delivery works a bit differently from the rest of the online retail environment. In fact, every independent and ethnic grocery store is unique—choosing the right delivery option depends on the store, its location, and its customer base.

When deciding whether or not to free grocery shopping delivery, it’s important to consider all the relevant factors that affect your business. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Free vs. Speed

Many eCommerce websites offer free delivery as a matter of course. Take Zappos, the world’s largest online shoe store, as an example. The company not only offers free delivery but free returns as well. It’s easy to see why: We’ve all had the experience of purchasing or at least trying on shoes that unexpectedly didn’t fit right. If shoppers had to pay for both the shipping and return of these products, Zappos would lose many of its best customers overnight.

Yet consumers shop for groceries differently compared to shoes, as well as books, electronics, and other popular eCommerce goods. Customers are generally willing to wait longer for their non-perishable retail items if it means receiving free shipping as well. Groceries, on the other hand, need to be delivered much quicker and are rarely subject to returns.

For online grocery shoppers, getting their goods delivered within one or two hours is often worth the delivery cost. In fact, customers wanting to avoid delivery charges are often more than happy to pick up the order in-store themselves, demonstrating the need for grocery stores to offer both options on their online ordering platform.

Delivering On Your Terms

While major eCommerce sites rely on UPS, FedEx, DHL, or the postal system to deliver goods, grocery stores have two main options when it comes to making deliveries. One is to use an app’s built-in fleet for order delivery; the delivery fee and optional tip fund this service. Grocery stores can also hire their own delivery driver(s) to handle orders, thereby cutting out the middleman when it comes to getting a customer’s items to their address.

With greater control over the delivery process, grocery stores can choose whether or not to offer free delivery depending on their costs, as well as the type of delivery service they use to fulfill orders. They may consider offering free delivery as part of a promotion or at non-peak hours to drive more sales.

Choosing The Right Promotions

Much of the appeal of offering free shipping comes from its promotional appeal. A ‘Free Shipping’ banner on a store’s landing page might entice shoppers to click further, but can the increased traffic make up for the thinner profit margins?

If the answer is no, it’s important to consider other promotional strategies that may work better for an online grocery business. A full-featured online grocery app allows store owners to offer digital coupons and open up loyalty programs that not only help to convert first-time buyers but also keep consumers coming back for the latest offers.

In summary, free shipping for online grocery stores isn’t a given. When an eGrocery can offer a standout experience, customers will be willing to pay for their own shipping, so long as their items arrive on-time and with the best coupons applied.

 It’s important to note that not every grocery app will offer these capabilities. Local Express’s white-label service offers a fully-integrated delivery app with location tracking and signed delivery options to give you more control over your service. To find out more, join us today.