Online grocery shopping delivery discount theory

Unlike Richard’s theory on Tesco barcodes, I am attempting a slightly more legal way of saving money on my grocery shopping.

We recently started to use Sainsbury’s online grocery shopping service to pick our groceries and have them delivered to our door. You pick a particular delivery slot on the day of your choice. The last time we did it the man in a van turned up just two minutes outside our chosen slot and handed over a £10 voucher off our next shop by way of recompense.

This got me thinking about how I can try and maximise the chance of late delivery. There are a number of factors which need to be taken into account:

  • Position on the delivery schedule
  • Route
  • Traffic and road works
  • Weather conditions

Both times so far our delivery has been towards the end of (or after) the chosen hour, which means we are probably towards the end of the delivery schedule. However this is dependent on who else has chosen to have a delivery in that hour. Therefore it makes sense to choose a time in which other people are most likely to want a delivery. Probably on a weekend, with Saturday being most likely. So far, we have chosen Saturday 12-1pm so this seems to back this up.

In order to work out the significance of the route we need to determine where the driver is likely to be coming from. It is a fair assumption that they start from a Sainsburys store, of which there are three possibilities. It is probable that they have a number of vans each servicing a fairly standard set of routes with a variable number of stops each time. Over the course of time through friendly chat with the delivery driver I should be able to ascertain more information on the route which will help me when I come to consider…

Traffic and road works. Once I have a better idea of where the van is likely to come from, then I will have a good idea of what times of day they are most likely to hit congestion. Due to the fact that we live in a marina, there is effectively only one route in and out of where we live (they are unlikely to revert to water-borne delivery methods) which gives us a good starting position. Given the location of the Sainsburys stores, they are likely to come from the generally West or North of us. To the West is the city centre which houses a major shopping centre, retail park and leisure complex which normally causes heavy traffic on Saturday lunchtimes. To the North is the home of Southampton Football Club which gives us a particular advantage on days when Saints have a home game with traffic build up between about 12-2 before games, and 4:45-6pm after games. After games tends to be much worse.

Road works are harder to judge, but for instance there are currently works on a nearbly one-way system which any van coming from the West would need to traverse. The westerly direction also includes a level crossing occasionally used by trains entering the docks, though this is very hard to predict.

The final variable is the weather. We all know that traffic snarls up during bad weather, but we also know that weather is notoriously hard to predict with accuracy. We can choose a delivery date from next day to up to three weeks, so logic suggests that choosing a much nearer date on which there is a reasonable chance of inclement weather is better than a far-off date.

So, taking this all into account, the optimum time for delivery is on a Saturday late afternoon when Saints are playing at home and it is pouring down with rain. Unfortunately the cupboards are bare, so we are getting one this Saturday when Saints are away to Barnsley. We’ve gone for 11-12pm to try and hit the shopping traffic at its peak, and to try a slightly different time to before to see if it makes any difference in the place we seem to get in the delivery schedule.

Of course, after all this we could just go to the store and forego any chance of saving getting a £10 discount but not have to pay £5 delivery charge either, but that wouldn’t be as interesting now would it!

5 thoughts on “Online grocery shopping delivery discount theory

  1. Interesting theorizing!

    The problem I discovered with internet ordering is that I spent a *lot* more. I think the problems were twofold. Firstly, it’s easy just to click on everything…. (a particular killer is browsing through the special offers section and loading up on stuff you wouldn’t otherwise have bought. Big mistaked). Secondly, it seems that some of the better value items just aren’t shown. e.g. Tesco stock a “Tesco Value Baby Sweetcorn” in their stores, which is actually better than their “regular” stuff… but I never noticed it when I shopped online.

    However, given that I don’t run a car, there’s not really much option.

  2. We’ve so far found the opposite. When we walked round Sainsburys with a trolley we always used to try and stick to a budget, and used one of their handheld scanners to see what we totted up as we went along.

    This typically doesn’t work for us as we are both magpies and grab things on a whim which means we end up sticking to our budget but not actually getting the essentials we needed to see the week out. This meant we tended to spend a fair amount in the local Tescos Extra during the week.

    So far it has been much easier to stick to our budget and get what we actually need using the online facility. It focuses the mind somewhat and of course you don’t have to click through the CD and DVD section to get to the bread!

  3. I think there’s a possibility for an extension of the Sainsbury’s service here.

    From what you say, it sounds like you’re valuing the cheapness of the goods/delivery over precision of delivery time (presumably because someone is at home for some time so it doesn’t really matter). If Sainsbury’s were to offer vaguer delivery slots for a smaller delivery fee (or none at all), would that interest you? Or perhaps there’s a way to do asynchronous delivery (leave it with a neighbour if you’re not there?) so that as long as it arrives before 7pm on Tuesday it’s OK.

  4. I like your thinking on delaying the delivery van so that you get the £10 voucher. Next time it rains and Saints are at home I’ll keep an eye out for the queue of supermarket delivery vans stuck in traffic!

    As for spending less when shopping for food online I would agree with you Adrian. I find online shopping to be quite a tedious process and so only buy what we absolutely need. Tesco has a nice facility whereby you can enter your shopping list and it will help you find the things you want and then once you have ordered it remembers your preferences and so the whole shopping experience becomes easier.

  5. Hi – we run an online supermarket advice site called so have a bit of an insight into this. I think Andrew Ferrier has hit the nail on the head. We have been told (off the record) that one of the major players is going to offer an “all day slot” option but as a very reduced or possibly no cost option. So for people that don’t want ever more precise delivery times and who will be in all day, this would be the way to go. It’s a smart move in our view.

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