Online grocery stores

Online grocery stores are internet-based shopping sites where people can order refrigerated, frozen, and non-perishable groceries to be delivered to their residence. Online grocery stores often have a wide variety of products and create personal shopping lists and recurring orders to make grocery shopping faster.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased access to healthy food

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved food environment

  • Improved dietary choices

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether online grocery stores increase access to healthy food or improve the community food environment. Available evidence suggests that using online grocery stores may encourage healthier eating behaviors by reducing unhealthy impulse purchases and improving the home food environment (Gorin 2007, ). Online grocery stores may also increase healthy food access in urban areas (Appelhans 2013). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Interviews suggest that consumers appreciate the convenience of online grocery shopping, but remain concerned about receiving inferior quality groceries (). After an initial online grocery order, individuals’ orders typically increase, especially for products that have been purchased before (). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Many online grocery stores are available nationally including Amazon Grocery, Fresh Direct, MySupermarket, Local Harvest, ShopFoodEx, GoBio!, Walmart Grocery, Safeway, and USGrocer (About.com-Boswell, USGrocer.com). Some areas have developed local online food purchasing options such as the Homegrown Local Food Co-op in Orlando, Florida, an online farmers’ market that sells healthy foods for home delivery or pick-up (Homegrown Coop).

Online food hubs can also function as online grocery stores, connecting consumers and businesses with local farmers and producers who fill online orders for local produce. One example is Market Mobile in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which provides locally produced food to approximately 50,000 families each week (CDC-HFR 2014).

Citations - Evidence

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Gorin 2007 - Gorin AA, Raynor HA, Niemeier HM, Wing RR. Home grocery delivery improves the household food environments of behavioral weight loss participants: Results of an 8-week pilot study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2007;4(58):1–6.

Appelhans 2013 - Appelhans BM, Lynch EB, Martin MA, et al. Feasibility and acceptability of internet grocery service in an urban food desert, Chicago, 2011-2012. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2013;10(8):E67.

Ramus 2005* - Ramus K, Nielsen NA. Online grocery retailing: What do consumers think? Internet Research. 2005;15(3):335–52.

Huyghe 2017* - Huyghe E, Verstraeten J, Geuens M, Van Kerckhove A. Clicks as a healthy alternative to bricks: How online grocery shopping reduces vice purchases. Journal of Marketing Research. 2017;54(1):61-74.

Wang 2015a* - Wang RJ-H, Malthouse EC, Krishnamurthi L. On the go: How mobile shopping affects customer purchase behavior. Journal of Retailing. 2015;91(2):217-234.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

About.com-Boswell - Boswell W. Get your groceries online: The top eight websites.

USGrocer.com - USGrocer.com. The power to buy. The power to save.

Homegrown Coop - Homegrown Local Food Co-op: Orlando, FL.

CDC-HFR 2014 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Healthier food retail (HFR): An action guide for public health practitioners. 2014.

Date Last Updated

May 25, 2017