Trends

6 New(ish) Ways To Shop For Groceries Online

Including the newest offerings from Sobeys and PC.

an image of a grocery bag for a piece on newish ways to grocery shop online

(Photo: iStock)

Since the start of the pandemic, there’s been a huge spike in online grocery shopping. And that increase in demand has seen stores refresh their online grocery offerings. From grocery stores letting you shop from all their sister stores for no extra charge, to exclusive member rewards programs and personal shopper experiences, we break down some of the newest ways to grocery shop right now.

 

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Voilà by Sobeys

Love Farm Boy ketchup chips, but also need a refill of your Ordinary serum from Well.ca? Voilà by Sobeys has you covered. Since Voilà fulfills its orders from a central warehouse instead of individual stores, you can combine products from all of its banners (Sobeys, Farm Boy, Well.ca and Chalo! FreshCo) for no extra charge. Voilà allows you to add or remove items from your order up until 7 p.m. the night before your delivery/pick-up date, unlike the 11 a.m. cut off at many other stores.

Cost: Starting delivery fee of $7.99, $50 order minimum
What you get: One- hour delivery/curbside-pickup window
Service Area: Delivery: Greater Toronto Area (Hamilton to Oshawa east to west, north to Newmarket); Pickup: Nova Scotia (New Glasgow, Spryfield, Dartmouth)

 

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PC Express and PC Optimum Insiders

Online grocery shopping (in partnership with Instacart), coast-to-coast availability and Optimum points on every purchase makes PC Express a super-convenient option. The savings get even better if you’re a PC Optimum Insiders member: pay a $119 membership fee, and you get no pickup fees, free shipping for online orders from Joe Fresh and Shoppers Drug Mart, 10 per cent back in Optimum points, on every purchase and exclusive deals. The one area PC Express does fall short on is, unlike with other programs, you cannot combine purchases from the different banners (hello, Shoppers Drug Mart) like other programs.

Cost: $3-5 dollars based on order, no minimum; pickup is free for PC Insiders members
What you get: One-hour delivery/curbside-pickup window
Service Area: In-store pickup/curbside delivery: All PC stores Canada-wide; plus certain non-store pickup locations.

 

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Grocery Gateway by Longos

Though more a boutique, limited-location experience, the GTA grocery chain Longos offers a handy auto reorder feature that makes staying stocked up on your staples a breeze: you can set up custom lists and different delivery frequencies. Plus, its referral program gives you $10 for every friend that you get to sign up and place an order.

Cost: Free store pickup, $7.99 delivery fee, $50 order minimum
What you get: Two-hour delivery/curbside-pickup window
Service Area: In-store pickup/curbside delivery: GTA, Guelph, Hamilton, Barrie

 

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Walmart

While a lot of stores have been offering priority access to healthcare workers, Walmart has gone one step further and created a special program where they will deliver grocery orders directly to hospitals for medical professionals in the GTA. For everyone else, Walmart offers curbside pickup and home delivery. Grocery orders need to be placed separately from other products, so unfortunately you can’t order a side of new pyjama pants with your ice cream.

Cost: Free store pickup over $25, $35 minimum order; $9.97 delivery fee, $35 order minimum
What you get: Same-day pickup/up to 21-day advance ordering
Service Area: Pickup: Cross Canada; Delivery: GTA

 

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Cornershop

Like a personal shopper, but for groceries. With Cornershop, you can shop from several different stores and specify how you like your produce. For example, if you only want bell peppers with four bottom bumps instead of three because you know they’re sweeter and better for eating raw, you can tell your shopper that. The stores available to shop from depends on your location, but often includes a combination of grocery, pharmacy, home improvement, pet and even clothing stores.

Cost: $9.90 for orders under $40, $6.90 for orders over $40. Service fee of 10 percent to 25 percent
What you get: Updates on your shopper’s location until it’s delivered, option to have order delivered within in an hour, or at a specified time
Service Area: GTA, Gatineau, Montreal, Ottawa

 

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Instacart

Much like Cornershop, Instacart uses individual people to shop for your order, but offers a larger variety of stores (Indigo, Sephora and Staples, for example) to shop from depending on your location. That being said, you pay for that expansiveness with higher service fees. Instacart charges based on order size and location, plus a separate alcohol fee, plus a delivery fee. Like Uber, it also operates on surge pricing, adding additional fees if you order during a busy period. You can reduce the service fees and eliminate the delivery fee on orders over $35 with an Instacart Express membership, but that will cost you $99 per year.

Cost: Delivery fees start at $3.99, service fees start at 5 per cent, plus additional fees for alcohol and busy time periods
What you get: In-app chat with your shopper, and a tracking map to follow the status of delivery
Service Area: Coast to coast, excluding territories

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