Which is Dubai's best online supermarket? We test them...
What’s On tests online shopping for supermarkets in Dubai. Find out how to order online from trolley.ae, supermart.ae, grocery.geantonline.ae, earlybird.ae.
Sick in bed, want someone else to do the heavy lifting or just a little bit lazy? Our friends at ‘good‘ put the UAE’s online grocery stores to the test, ordering some ‘get well soon’ essentials.
THE SHOPPING LIST
• Masafi water (6 x 500ml)
• 1kg of the cheapest oranges
• 1 box of the most basic tissues
• Knorr Chicken Noodle Soup
• 500ml bottle of Gatorade
• Honey & Lemon Strepsils
Choice: Obviously the choice is not comparable to vast supermarkets, but trolley.ae’s selection is more than comprehensive with a lot of fresh produce, pet products, Salik and phone cards, meat, toiletries and basics. Everything on our list was available.
Price: Dhs40.50, plus Dhs10 delivery charge.
Ease of use: Very easy. Products are organised by category (eg bakery, frozen, baby) and you can search by name too. Click on the item, adjust the quantity and it’s added to your cart. All went smoothly until we arrived at check-out when everything had been doubled up, which meant some fiddling around. After paying (should you opt to use a credit card) your order is then emailed to you. If an item is not available you are notified by email or phone.
Payment: You can pay with your credit or debit card via the website, or cash upon delivery.
Delivery: If your order is under Dhs100 there’s a charge of Dhs10. If over Dhs100 it’s free. They can deliver all over Dubai, from Downtown to Discovery Gardens.
Time taken: You book a time slot for later that day or on a day of your choosing. Delivery is available from 10am to 10pm, with orders placed after 8.30pm processed the next day. We ordered at 10.20am and booked a time slot between noon and 1pm – it turned up at 12.50pm. Just in time. The benefit of booking a slot is that you can pop out (or go back to sleep) without worrying about missing the doorbell, but it may not be as immediate as other services.
Additional features: Previous orders are logged, you can mark certain products as favourites (should you be a shopper of habit) and you can leave the site mid-shop, then return to finish filling the cart.
Verdict: This was really easy. Everything was available and the order arrived on time, with all products correct, in good condition and packaged in smartly branded brown paper bags. If you’re looking for a lazy life this website will certainly help.
Choice: Supermart.ae caters to your every whim. We were pleasantly surprised just how much was on offer, including a great range of organic and gluten-free produce. Anything from birthday candles to shisha can be snapped up here.
Price: Dhs45.35, plus a Dhs5 delivery fee and Dhs3 fee for paying by card on arrival.
Ease of use: Idiot proof. Simply select your item and click to add to your virtual trolley. Not having to add in card details online was an added bonus, and when we added in one item too many by mistake it was easily removed. Ideal if you’re not a pro at online shopping.
Payment: You can pay by cash or card on delivery, making this a great option to those who are wary about entering their details online.
Delivery: Delivery is free when you spend a minimum of Dhs50 and they will deliver anywhere in Dubai, with the aim of getting it to your door in under 90 minutes.
Time taken: This is where supermart.ae let us down. We placed our order at 10.20am and the goods arrived a whopping two hours and 15 minutes later. This isn’t ideal if you have somewhere to be, and we didn’t receive the dispatch email as promised, forcing us to call up and check our order’s progress.
Additional features: New shoppers will receive a 10 percent discount and if there is a product missing from their online store they are happy to consider your suggestions. Magazines and newspapers are available.
Verdict: We were very happy with the range of produce on offer and the website is easy enough to use for even the most technically challenged. The timing was what let us down, and once this is speeded up it will be an absolute gem.
Choice: Vast. The website is a pretty fair reflection of what’s available in store, with a good selection of organic products, deli items, fresh produce and imported food. Electronics and home appliances are also available through geantonline.ae.
Price: Dhs39.40, plus a Dhs10 delivery charge.
Ease of use: Choosing and ordering the items was easy, with a search function and items arranged by category then brand and price (and everything on the list was available). But – don’t laugh – the verification code tripped us up a few times. It was really difficult to read. This meant a call was placed to the helpline to see if it was a problem with the browser. The operator talked us through the registration and payment process, checking that the order was in the system and a confirmation email was sent.
Payment: You can pay by credit or debit card via the website or with cash or card upon delivery (drivers carry a machine).
Delivery: An order of less than Dhs100 incurs a Dhs10 charge, and it’s free for orders over Dhs100. Delivery is possible to all major Dubai neighbourhoods, including areas slightly further out like Jumeirah Village Triangle and Al Furjan.
Time taken: We ordered at 11am and booked a time slot later that day of 2pm to 4pm, with the groceries turning up at 3.50pm in reusable bags.
Additional features: It stores your personal details so you can repeat orders, save favourites and view past orders. There’s also a sale section with discounted items.
Verdict: It was easy to use, turned up on time (with all groceries correct and in good condition) and the delivery guy was full of smiles. Thumbs up.
Choice: Not amazing. Notably, they don’t stock any fresh produce so we didn’t get our oranges; in fact we only managed to get the liquid items and the tissues on our shopping list. They do, however, sell a range of electronic products, from widescreen televisions to food processors, should you be in the market for a more significant purchase.
Price: Dhs20, plus a Dhs7.50 delivery charge on top, but we only managed to buy the tissues, water and Gatorade.
Ease of use: The website is easy to navigate, with the option to search as well as select items from a sidebar of categories. We didn’t have any problems logging in our details, selecting and buying products. It all went very smoothly. Disappointingly, there isn’t much information on the delivery charges until you reach the checkout.
Payment: You aren’t given the option to pay online, but rather you pay in cash or with credit card upon delivery. However, when our purchases arrived, we were told it was cash only as the payment machine wasn’t working. Thumbs down.
Delivery: If you want delivery within the hour, you can pay a Dhs15 charge, to choose a ‘convenient’ time, you pay Dhs7.50 and there’s no charge for it to be delivered any time between 9am to 4pm within a week of your order. Yet, when we called with a query regarding locations, we were told that depending on the location, delivery may be restricted to certain days.
Time taken: We initially requested to pay a Dhs15 charge for a one-hour delivery, however we received a phone call within 10 minutes explaining that this wouldn’t be possible on that day. Instead, we could receive the goods at 9.30am the following morning for a Dhs7.50 charge. The groceries arrived at 10am. Not ideal if you’re feeling under the weather and relying on your pick-me-up parcel.
Additional features: The system stores personal details (both billing and shipping), you can store multiple delivery addresses and view and track orders in your account. Early Bird also has some slashed priced products on their homepage.
Verdict: The fact you aren’t given the option to pay online isn’t ideal and somewhat defeats the purpose of online shopping. Meanwhile, the lack of fresh vegetables, dairy or meat suggests you couldn’t rely on Early Bird for your weekly shop.
We tried to order online with no avail. The website wouldn’t allow us to view or select items. A phone call later and we were told we could give our order over the phone (which makes the online part wholly redundant). But again we faced an obstacle when the total cost fell under the Dhs50 minimum. Customers are expected to pay Dhs4 for an order up to Dhs100 and rather oddly, Dhs5 for a larger order of more than Dhs150. You must also place an order one day in advance, which will be delivered the following day during a morning or evening shift. GroceryMan say they guarantee to keep the price of their fruit and vegetables on par or below any supermarket.
This feature first appeared in ‘good‘ magazine in October 2013.
P.S We decided to see if the convenience of online shopping comes with a hefty price tag and purchased the same shopping list at Carrefour. The result was a bill of Dhs47.15 and some rather sore arms from carrying our groceries home.