When I Tried Online-Only Supermarket Shopping…

eCommerce_SpainIn the name of market research, it makes sense that sometimes I should try some of the goods or services that are mentioned on Money Saver Spain. In June 2014 I decided to start to try online-only supermarkets.

The first one was Ulabox, Spain’s first 100% online-only supermarket. This company offers all Unilever brands (you’ll probably be surprised at how many brands carry the Unilever logo) as well as top brands such as Coca-cola.

Using Ulabox

  1. First of all I made a big mistake by Googling Ulabox, clicking on the ad at the top of the page that showed a 15% discount for newbies and not ordering there and then. When I finally got round to ordering a couple of days later the offer was no longer there. Was this due to cookies placed on my computer or that the company only offers this promo on certain days of the week? Who knows, however I was really annoyed that I’d missed out on a good discount.
  2. Registering was really simple, hardly any details are required (as opposed to some websites that ask for too many details).
  3. It took around 30 minutes to carry out my shopping, but as this was the first time then subsequent visits ought to take less.
  4. All items show prices per units (ml / gr / etc). However, it was difficult to know whether items on offer showed the reduced or original price per unit. Of course, you can always use a calculator but that defeats the object of having the information available.
  5. Refrigerated products are only available in the Barcelona area, but this wasn’t an issue as I prefer shopping locally for these items (cheese, meat, fish, etc).
  6. Multi-pack sizes are small (refreshments, toilet tissue, etc) so I had to buy more packs than usual (eg 2 x 9-can packs of Coke as opposed to a 24-can pack). The smaller pack sizes made sense when I saw how it all came packed in boxes. It’s probably a lot easier to put 9-can packs in a box than 24-can packs due to size and weight.
  7. Lots of delivery slots were available, especially as I shopped at 8:30 in the morning. Later on it may be different and you have to remember to shop before 1 pm to get next day delivery.
  8. Delivery was prompt (in the middle of my chosen slot) and all items ordered were delivered. I would have preferred that the product list included in the delivery also showed prices – these were only shown on the email confirming the order.
  9. Best before dates on all products were fine, what you’d expect from good stock rotation.

What About Prices?

Well it’s definitely NOT cheaper than Carrefour, Alcampo, etc but the free delivery threshold is low at only 59€. For comparison purposes at Carrefour you need to spend 90€ for free delivery (loyalty card holders) otherwise the cost is 6€ (orders over 90€) or 9€ if under the threshold (unless you take advantage of their occasional free delivery promos).

General Observations

Buying online is definitely quicker and less stressful than visiting your local supermarket for boring items that you buy regularly and that you don’t mind someone else picking out. You save on the time of both travelling to and from the supermarket, doing your shopping and loading and unloading your car. And of course you save on petrol too.

On the other hand, bearing in mind that I couldn’t buy refrigerated products (and wouldn’t have bought them even if I could) I still need to spend time shopping for these.

Conclusions and a Cheeky Suggestion!

But would I use Ulabox again? Well, considering I could buy the same products online cheaper at Carrefour probably not, unless Ulabox offer me a discount. However, before making a final judgement I’m going to try more online-only as well as traditional supermarket delivery services and compare them. A little trick I’ve learned is that when you don’t use a service for a while, they tend to offer you an exclusive discount to get you to buy again. Will Ulabox do this? Only time will tell.

One last thing, Ulabox offers all clients a code to give to friends and family to get 5€ off their first order, when they use it you’ll also get 5€ off your next order. Here’s my link, so if anyone uses it then I will use Ulabox again as the discount compensates for the higher prices!


Related post: Online-only supermarkets in Spain