The benefits of shopping by mouse from your house
Marks Spencer is the latest brand to offer online shopping in Ireland, so who else is in the market, how easy is it and what does delivery cost?
WHILE IT WAS once seen as a sign of the “cash rich, time poor” Celtic Tiger years, getting your weekly groceries delivered can also make sense in the age of austerity. After all, it can be easier to keep a watch on your grocery budget by shopping online – and avoiding those last-minute impulse purchases. The downside is delivery charges, but these can off-set parking costs that you might incur, as well as rising fuel costs. And, with the imminent arrival of Marks Spencer in the online space, your options have never been better.
In the UK, online shopping has become ever more accessible through initiatives such as a smart phone app from Ocado, which allows you to place your shopping order from your phone.
So, while you’re sitting on the bus going to work, you can arrange to have your shopping delivered upon your return later that evening.
While Ireland may still be a step behind, online shopping has never been so easy to navigate.
So, if you want to shop with supermarkets or department stores, what are your options and what can you buy?
Unfortunately, if you don’t live close to a Marks Spencer, you won’t be able to avail of its famed “Dine in for two” offer any time soon – despite the launch of its new online facility. According to MS, it will not sell food through its new website, which is launching this spring. Similarly, one of the largest players in the supermarket space, Dunnes Stores, does not have an online offering.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of other supermarkets who do deliver – with varying costs and delivery locations.
Superquinn for example, charges between €4 and €8 an order, depending on the day and time of delivery, while charges at both Tesco and SuperValu range from €4 to €7.
The key to getting the cheaper prices seems to be to arrange delivery either early in the week or late at night.
Perusing delivery times at SuperValu for example, it was clear that Mondays are the cheapest, with the full fee of €7, charged all day Friday and Saturday. With Tesco, weekends also tend to be the most expensive, with the cheapest delivery times typically offered after about 8pm.
Another option is to order online and simply collect your groceries yourself.
Superquinn offers its “Click Collect” service in its Lucan and Elm Park outlets. This allows you to drive by and collect your shopping from the underground car park for a fee of €5. With SuperValu, it is also possible to pick up goods at certain stores in your area for €3.
But, while MS may not deliver anywhere, other stores also have restrictions. SuperValu, for example, typically delivers in the area surrounding its larger stores, while Superquinn focuses on all parts of Dublin and parts of Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is that your favourite purchases are saved automatically, so you don’t have to itemise regular items from week to week, and will no longer have the dread of writing up that shopping list.
It is also particularly useful when bulking up on everyday items such as tinned goods or breakfast cereals.
And just because you might be shopping from the comfort of your living room, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Most online stores give a decent run-down of special offers, while, of course, there may be less temptation to buy products that you don’t need.
Provided that you register your reward card, shopping online should still allow you to collect points, and watch out for special offers – at both Tesco and SuperValu for example, you can get €10 off your first order over €60.
But be warned – if you opt to allow supermarkets to replace goods for you when it comes items that are out of stock, you might be in line for some surprises.
Until recently, if you were an aficionado of Tesco’s clothing range Florence Fred – which, it should be pointed out, frequently makes an appearance in fashion magazines despite its rock-bottom prices – you had to travel to one of the few supermarkets in Ireland that carried an extensive stock, such as Naas or Clare Hall in Dublin.
Now however, for a charge of £4.95 (€5.92) you can access the collection online, with delivery to Ireland within two days.
Shopping online with Tesco means you can also avail of its new virtual fitting room through Facebook. You upload a photo of your face, choose a hairstyle and indicate your key measurements – and it will create an avatar of you which should give you some indication of how the clothes will look on you.
And, while it may not deliver food, MS’s new website will bring its clothing range to people across Ireland. Consumers will be able to access 10,000 items across the UK brand’s womenswear, lingerie, menswear and kidswear lines, in addition to a range of “online fashion exclusives” that will be available for the first time in Ireland.
Delivery costs a flat €4.95, but if you need something in a hurry, express delivery within one or two working days is available for €9.95.
Debenhams, which has 11 department stores around the country, also offers online shopping for customers in Ireland.
Delivery takes between three and five working days and standard delivery usually costs €5, and it is free on orders over €30, although it is currently offering free delivery on all orders.
Shopping online makes it easier to compare exchange rates from UK multiples, which have been accused in the past of applying a significant mark-up on exchange rates. A flick onto the equivalent UK website and a subsequent check on a currency converter such as oanda.com, and you’ll see how much extra you’re being charged for the pleasure of living in Ireland.
The good news for MS lovers is that it will offer a selection of its homewares online. The bad news is that it won’t be very extensive, so if you want to make a specific or a large purchase you may still have to visit your nearest store or purchase through its catalogue.
But there are other department store options. At Arnotts, for example, you can purchase online everything from cushions, to bed-linen to iPads to dining tables. Standard shipping starts at €5 for items of less than 30kg. However for larger items, delivery may take up to eight weeks and costs from €40, although it does offer free delivery for all orders over €1,000 in Ireland.
REMEMBER, HOWEVER, that there are some downsides to online shopping, so as a buyer you should beware, particularly if you’re buying something you haven’t seen in person, as returns can be problematic. In the case of clothing from Tesco, for example, you will need to send it back to the UK if you wish to have it replaced or to get a refund. You can’t simply bring it in to your nearest store, so you might incur a cost in doing so.
Arnotts on the other hand offers free returns, while Debenhams allows you to return your goods bought online in-store, although there are some exceptions, such as certain jewellery ranges. It also offers a free postage service for returns.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is that your favourite purchases are saved automatically