Pricing Comparison for Online Grocery Stores - AKA Coborn's Prices Suck

by Stephen Fluin 2014.01.05

Being a lazy consumer, I rarely stop to think about the hidden costs of some of my digital choices. One such consideration is that of online grocery stores. The convenience of having groceries selected online and delivered to your home is unquestionable, but is it worth it for the price?

When evaluating and using services such as Coborn's Delivers in the past, I would always look primarily at the timing and cost of the delivery fee, and assume that the pricing of the food was comparable. This was definitely a mistake, as I later found out, as many of these online grocery stores hide some of their additional costs of operation in the price of the food.

To compare more directly, I finally took a moment to look at a receipt from my local grocery store (a major chain run in Minnesota), and pulled up the identical items or a equivalent comparable (such as strawberries), and made the following chart:

Item Local Store 2014-01-04 Coborn's 2014-01-05
Goldfish 2.04 2.49
Skippy Peanut Butter 2.74 3.09
Starkist can 1.12 1.19
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese 0.94 1.19
Raisins 1.49 2.29
Strawberries 3.31 3.99
Prego - Vodka 2.09 1.66
Bag of Baby Carrots 1.44 1.79
Eggo Waffles 2.44 3.29
Milk 1.98 2.19
Tropicana 3.49 4.49
Digiorno 8OZ 3.19 3.99
Sum: $26.27 $31.65


Looking at these prices, there's a 20.48% premium on the online delivery, in addition to the delivery charge. If you have ever spent any time thinking about getting a loyalty card that gives a discount, or using apps such as Cartwheel where you can save 5% or 10%, then it quickly becomes clear that the 20.48% surcharge is completely unacceptable, eliminating online delivery from the realm of feasability.

Also, my Fitbit hates it when I use online delivery for locally available things.