The rise of online grocery shopping has changed pantry stocking in North America, with ecommerce grocery companies making it simpler to fill virtual carts with fresh and staple items. Buying groceries online has become a fixture, not a fad, and online grocery sales are forecast to surge in the next five years.
Here are some of the biggest online grocery retailers, as well as a few others with unique features.
What is grocery ecommerce?
Online grocery companies are businesses that provide a way for customers to buy groceries and other food products online instead of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. They develop websites and mobile apps where shoppers can browse inventory, add items to a virtual shopping cart, and check out. After a shopper orders groceries online, products are then pulled from shelves, packed, and delivered to the customer’s home.
Online grocery companies may partner with existing supermarkets or operate their own fulfillment centers. The goal is to provide more convenience and flexibility to shoppers by letting them purchase groceries online to avoid trips to the supermarket.
Top ecommerce grocery (and grocery delivery) companies
The online grocery industry has grown rapidly in recent years, with many major retailers expanding into online shopping to meet changing consumer preferences. Here are some of North America’s leading online grocery companies:
Instacart provides grocery delivery and pick-up services in 14,000 cities across the US and Canada. The platform partners with more than 500 retailers and offers selections from 80,000 local, regional, and national grocery stores, allowing customers to buy groceries online, including fresh produce, meat, pantry staples, and specialty items. The online grocery company is known for its user-friendly app and website.
- Delivery: Instacart provides same-day delivery service—often within an hour—depending on the availability of personal shoppers and delivery slots.
- Memberships: Instacart offers Instacart+ for $99 a year, which includes benefits such as free delivery on orders of more than $35 and reduced service fees.
- Fees: Delivery fees for non-members typically start at $3.99 for same-day orders of more than $35, with varying fees for one-hour deliveries and orders under $35.
Shipt is a membership-based online marketplace that delivers groceries, household items, and select electronics. The grocery shopping service is available in more than 5,000 US cities and partners with retailers such as Target, which acquired Shipt in 2017. Shipt provides personal services through a network of local shoppers who handpick items for customers.
- Delivery: Shipt offers delivery the day of the order, depending on the availability of Shipt shoppers and delivery windows.
- Memberships: Shipt requires a membership whether you opt for an annual ($99 a year), monthly ($10.99 a month), or student ($4.99 a month) plan.
- Fees: Orders of more than $35 are delivered for free with a monthly or annual Shipt membership. Orders of less than $35 carry a $7 delivery fee. Service fees may also apply to orders from small retailers.
Walmart’s ecommerce supermarket lets customers buy groceries online, from fresh groceries to household essentials. Walmart provides online grocery shopping and delivery services across the US, leveraging its vast network of stores for order fulfillment. The company offers competitive pricing, a broad selection of products, and the convenience of combining grocery shopping with other household purchases, like toilet paper and paper towels.
- Delivery: Walmart offers same day delivery for online grocery buyers in many locations, with the option to schedule delivery windows on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Memberships: Walmart offers Walmart+ for $12.95 a month, or $98 a year. The membership program includes free delivery and fuel discounts at Walmart gas stations.
- Fees: Walmart+ members enjoy free delivery on qualifying orders of more than $35, while non-members pay a delivery fee between $7.95 and $9.95. Express delivery is $10 for all customers, regardless of their membership status.
Kroger, one of the largest supermarket chains in the US, offers an online grocery store service that includes ordering for pickup and delivery. Kroger’s service is widely available across its nationwide network of 2,750 grocery retail stores. The chain sells a wide assortment of private-label brands, organic foods, and a robust selection of fresh produce.
- Delivery: Kroger provides same-day delivery in many markets, with the option to schedule delivery slots.
- Memberships: Boost, a loyalty program, offers free delivery, fuel rewards, and exclusive savings. It has two membership tiers—one for free next-day delivery ($59 a year) and another for free delivery in less than two hours ($99 a year).
- Fees: Delivery is free for Boost members whose orders exceed $35. For non-members, there is a $9.95 to $11.95 fee, depending on your location.
Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s online grocery delivery service. The food delivery service offers a wide selection of fresh produce, perishables, and non-perishable food products, brought directly to consumers’ doors. Amazon Fresh is available in various locations across the US and in some international markets, relying on Amazon’s vast logistics network. The service is known for its specialty in providing a broad range of products, including Amazon’s own private label brands and local goods, with the convenience of tying into the larger Amazon ecosystem.
- Delivery: Amazon Fresh offers same-day delivery for orders placed by a specific time, depending on the area and availability.
- Memberships: Access to Amazon Fresh is included with an Amazon Prime membership, which is $14.99 a month or $139 a year.
- Fees: Amazon Fresh provides free delivery for Prime members on orders of more than $100. There are additional fees for expedited delivery and orders below the $100 threshold.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market offers an online grocery shopping service through Amazon with a focus on natural and organic foods. With its integration into the Amazon ecosystem, Whole Foods provides delivery in areas where Amazon Fresh is available, leveraging the same logistical network. The service specializes in high-quality, sustainable, organic products and caters to health-conscious consumers and those with dietary restrictions.
- Delivery: Whole Foods Market typically offers same-day delivery for Prime members. In several cities, you can schedule delivery so your order arrives within a two-hour window.
- Memberships: The online grocery delivery service for Whole Foods Market is available to Amazon Prime members.
- Fees: For Amazon Prime members, Whole Foods Market delivery is included at no additional charge for orders of more than $100, while smaller orders incur a delivery fee.
Thrive Market is an online grocery store specializing in natural and organic products. It operates throughout the US, offering non-perishable foods, beauty, bath and body, and home products that are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. Thrive Market is known for catering to those with various dietary needs, including shoppers following vegan, keto, paleo, and gluten-free diets.
- Delivery: Thrive Market offers carbon-neutral ground shipping to all US street addresses. Most orders are delivered in two to five days after the purchase date.
- Memberships: Thrive Market requires a monthly ($12 a month) or annual membership ($60 a year).
- Fees: Members enjoy free shipping on orders of more than $49, while a shipping fee applies to smaller orders.
Hive is an eco-conscious ecommerce grocery platform that curates a selection of sustainable and socially responsible non-perishable products. Hive operates primarily in the contiguous US. With a mission to make sustainable shopping mainstream, Hive sells a variety of goods, ranging from pantry staples to wellness products, all while emphasizing ingredient integrity, recyclable packaging, and a low carbon footprint.
- Delivery: Most orders are dispatched through ground shipping with delivery ranging from two to five days. Delivery can take up to four weeks for orders shipped to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.
- Memberships: Hive offers a subscription service where customers can select the duration and frequency of their deliveries during checkout. Subscribers save 10% on their orders.
- Fees: Shipping is free on orders of more than $65 within the contiguous US. Shipping for all orders to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and other US territories costs $30.
FreshDirect is an online fresh food grocer that delivers to residences and offices in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It specializes in fresh, quality products and meal solutions, including quick-prep meals and organic and locally sourced goods. FreshDirect works directly with farmers, fishers, and artisanal producers.
- Delivery: FreshDirect typically offers next-day delivery, with the ability to reserve a delivery time slot.
- Memberships: FreshDirect offers a DeliveryPass subscription service for $79/six months, which provides unlimited free deliveries, reserved time slots, and other benefits.
- Fees: Without a DeliveryPass subscription, home delivery fees vary based on location, ranging from $5.99 to $15.99.
Ecommerce grocery companies FAQ
Who is the largest online grocery retailer?
The largest online grocery store is Walmart.
Is grocery ecommerce profitable?
Yes. Most ecommerce grocery stores charge delivery and other fees, more than making up for the narrow margins on product sales.
Is online grocery shopping ecommerce?
Yes. Online grocery shopping is considered ecommerce because it involves online shopping for food and goods while managing transactions electronically.