Online grocery shopping in Shanghai

Shanghai online grocery delivery stores tested

Photograph: Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash
Skip the struggle home from the wet market and get food straight to your door. Time Out orders the same basket of goods (pictured, left) from five Shanghai online grocery stores to see which really deliver


Launched in 2012 to help Shanghai’s foreign residents find food they miss from home, Epermarket offers a stock range similar to the likes of import shops such as Feidan but with a focus on convenience. Their website is available in four languages (Chinese, English, French and German), they are one of the only stores to deliver goods in temperature-controlled vans and all products are traceable throughout.

Delivery charges 30RMB standard delivery; 50RMB same day; free for orders over 300RMB

Delivery times Midday-4pm, 5-9pm, 8-10.30pm, midday-10.30pm daily

Delivery area All of Shanghai except Chongming, Hengsha and Changxing Islands

Cash on delivery? Yes

Cost of basket 433RMB

Ordering experience Hands down the quickest of all our online shopping experiences, Epermarket features a slick site navigation that enables us to blitz through our shopping list in only 15 minutes. Our favourite feature is the fast buy, which searches the site for all the items on our copy-and-pasted shopping list in one go, saving us more than 20 minutes of page scrolling.

Delivery experience We opt for the late night 8-10.30pm delivery slot, the latest offered by all the stores we tried, but our delivery man actually arrives at 7.30pm without calling ahead. Helpfully though, he’s the only one to offer to bring heavy items through to the kitchen.

Goods are perfectly chilled on arrival, all packed in one sturdy recycled cardboard box, with non-food, meat and dairy items all separated in individual carrier bags and fruit and veg in card trays.

Kate & Kimi

Set up by two Jinqiao residents, community-based delivery site Kate & Kimi started life after the founders struggled to get deliveries of organic vegetables to their Pudong homes. Now partnered with local growers Gusto Fine Foods, who supply to Shanghai restaurants including Jean Georges and M on the Bund, they stock organic veg, kitchen essentials and a slew of locally-produced foods such as Tock’s deli meats.

Delivery charges Free for orders over 150RMB

Delivery times Next day or same day delivery Monday-Saturday, with three-four hour wait slots from 9am-8pm in Puxi and 8am-7pm in Pudong.

Delivery area All of Shanghai except Chongming Island

Cash on delivery? Yes, but delivery drivers have no local card machines

Cost of basket 472RMB

Ordering experience Quick, efficient and surprisingly enjoyable. We tick off everything on the list easily while reading the informative vendor profiles or notes from the founders topping every page. The mixture of farm fresh veg, quality kitchen staples and locally produced goods makes the experience as close as you can get to a farmer’s market without leaving the sofa.

Delivery experience We book the 6-8pm slot, but request a post-work-friendly 7.30pm in the comments section, which is confirmed the following day by email.

Although slightly skeptical when we see our smiling delivery guy trundle up on a scooter, all food is neatly packed in a sealed cardboard box with no damage. Fresh produce comes in individual sandwich bags, yoghurts are stored with an ice pack and our frozen meal is still appropriately icy.

With 131 physical stores in China, Tesco, one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, finally launched its shop shelf to front door process here in June 2013 with a Shanghai-only trial.

There’s a slick bilingual website design, honed from over a decade of use in the UK, which features the full range of supermarket products including their own-brand range and, unlike rival French hypermarket Carrefour, fresh groceries.

Delivery charges From 8RMB/delivery

Delivery hours and time slots 10am-10pm daily with two-hour delivery windows

Delivery area Within Shanghai’s Inner Ring Road only

Cash on delivery? No. Online payment or with Chinese bank card on delivery

Cost of basket 339RMB

Ordering experience While Tesco UK has a one click multi-item shopping list search feature, it’s lacking here. Nevertheless, navigating item by item is a quick and painless experience, and we’re able to save sets of shopping lists for future use.

We’re also able to order our fresh produce either individually or by weight, the only store where this is possible, as well as get hold of everything we’d usually find in store, including bargains on own-brand products.

Delivery experience We request a slightly earlier arrival delivery in the comments, but this is flatly ignored. Ten minutes before the end of our morning delivery slot we receive a call from the driver asking for directions and he subsequently arrives half an hour late.

He’s the cheeriest of the bunch when he does arrive though, asking us to check through our order list while opening each carrier bag (packed in a bit of a muddle), and is sure to point out that the cereal bars we ordered are currently out of stock. We are offered a different flavour as an alternative, which we can choose to either accept or send back for a refund.

Backed by Walmart and founded by two former Dell China vice presidents, Yihaodian is one of China’s biggest online retailers, delivering everything from food and household products to laptops, cameras and clothing with bargain prices and fast delivery times.

Delivery charges 4-12RMB/order depending on time selected

Delivery times 8am-8pm daily. Time slots are customisable; we were able to choose between 9-10am for 8RMB or 9am-midday for 4RMB.

Delivery area The whole of Shanghai

Cash on delivery? Yes

Cost of basket 385RMB

Ordering experience Although there is no English version of the site, design is generally straightforward and slick. However, as with most Chinese websites, every click opens a new window, meaning by the end of our list, our screen is flooded.

The product range has lots of affordable basic staples and imported goods seemingly selected for their big household names rather than quality and seasonal delicacies. There’s also a surprisingly impressive selection of fresh produce.

Delivery experience Inconveniently, upon checkout we discover our frozen item has to come from a different distribution centre which won’t deliver for a further two days. However, we are able to track our package’s route from warehouse to door with a dedicated logistics code. Our driver calls an hour before our slot to confirm details, before arriving on time with a scooter laden down with other deliveries. All glass and fragile items are triple packed in bubble wrap and boxes, although our fresh produce looks like it’s taken a little bit of a bruising.