Online Only Challenge

Monday, 31 October 2016

We’re now 2 and a bit weeks through our rather spontaneously proposed and accepted 3 week Online-Only-Purchases challenge. We decided to do it on the spur of the moment on our way to orienteering - I can’t even remember specifically why, but I do remember that Jett was very happy as he’s not a natural in-shop-shopper.  The premise is pretty simple - where there’s an option, we have to make the purchase online. If there isn’t an option, it must be urgent (i.e. petrol), or we have to wait until part 2 of our challenge, which will be 3 weeks of  ‘Offline-Only’ purchases. We’re two weeks into On-line-Only which means the Offline-Only will start on Monday.

I have embraced Online-Only. In fact, perhaps too much.  I might even have got this challenge confused with an Online-Only-Frenzy. Things we (mostly me) have bought in the challenge:

  • 1920s costume dress
  • Board Games  x 3 (cos you got free delivery if you spent over $100!)
  • Car (more about this later)
  • Plane, boat tickets (related to the above item)
  • Groceries,  oh so many groceries
  • And probably heaps of other things I’ve forgotten.
To be fair, some of these things I would have done anyway, although I ordered the dress a bit earlier than I would have (I didn’t want to be stuck trying to find one in the off-line only period), and we were already looking for a car online. 

So the biggest change to our daily lives has been the introduction of the home delivery shopping.   We’ve had a total of 4 orders delivered in 2 weeks - 2 from Coles and 2 from Woolworths. .  We hadn’t previously tried it, as aside from the delivery cost, I’ve always suspected that I’d put in an order, then I’d immediately want to add something to it, or realise I’d forgotten something crucial then need to go to the supermarket anyway - completely defeating the purpose.    What I’ve discovered is that you can change your order up to 3am on the day of the delivery which is great - but there are some complications… bear with me while I try to explain..Because supermarket specials run from Wednesday to Tuesday, if you order something that is on special on Tuesday, and schedule it for delivery on Thursday (which is the day after the next round of specials start), you’ll get that thing for the on-sale price EXCEPT if you do choose to add anything to your order after Tuesday  because then your whole cart will get recalculated with the new specials.     This does’t sound too bad, but last week watermelon was on super-sale, so I included it in the order I prepared on Monday that I wanted to be delivered on Saturday, right before family dinner (I couldn’t get it delivered any earlier because there were fresh items like a bunch of basil that wouldn’t last).   So this meant that between Wednesday and Saturday I couldn’t add anything to my order because then I wouldn’t get the super sale price of the watermelon (the kids were adamant about the importance of getting the watermelon - we would have stuck with coles otherwise). 

So after not adding anything all week (despite us running low in other items), we finally made it to Saturday whereupon I got a text from Woolworths saying that they were very sorry but watermelon was sold out, so it wouldn’t be coming with the delivery! Argh!  I bet this is (almost) how it felt for all those people who ordered home delivered turkey last year only to be told by the supermarket that it was sold out  on Christmas Eve when it was time to deliver.

Whilst neither the Coles or Woolworths websites are perfect (in my opinion the Coles one is better out of the two), I’ve certainly enjoyed NOT going to the supermarket for the last few weeks - In a regular week I would have visited a supermarket at least every 2nd day and twice or more on the weekend as part of family dinner preparations! Being restricted means making do with what we’ve got a lot more - we had the kids make some bread in the bread maker for us last weekend which was great and I’ve baked some delicious treats (from pantry ingredients) instead of buying delicious treats.  

One negative thing that I’ve noticed about online grocery shoppings is that I feel I don’t have my usual knowledge of what is in the fridge - particularly fresh veggies and things -I think that if you order something on the internet, and it arrives a number of days later and you quickly unpack it into the fridge, it doesn’t seem to make as big an impression as if you select the item and hold it in your hand at the supermarket, or queue at the deli counter to get it - so I’ve found that I keep being surprised by what I find in the fridge shelves.

Having had deliveries from both Coles and Woolworths, we think Coles is better - the website is better, there are was to make the delivery free, and you don’t end up with so many plastic bags - Strangely Woolworths deliver everything in grey plastic bags, just like the old days, except the bags are much thicker - and they aren’t trying to economise on bags either - it’s often just one or two items in each.  

It will be interesting to see if we have ended up spending more or less on groceries - we’ve spent at least $30 on deliveries but we’ve probably saved about that much by avoiding impulse purchases. Perhaps it comes down to time, and whether you’d rather spend your time on the couch at home, adding items to your shopping trolley as you think of them, or whether you’d prefer to get the shopping done and dusted instantly.

Oh - I must also declare that I've also borrowed and begged for more stuff that I would have - both Clare and Paul have provided things we wouldn't have been able to buy (such as chicken wire for the veggie patch, lemons, emergency food..)

So that pretty much wraps up our Online-Only experience, we’ll get a good sense of contrast when we move into Offline Only on Monday - but in preparation I’d better pay a few bills on line before then - I don’t want to have to go to the post office to do it!
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