Just after we arrived in Guangzhou, my employer arranged a grocery shopping trip for new staff to Aeon. This took place on a Tuesday afternoon around 5 o’clock and was definitely one of the most eye-opening experiences I have had since moving to China. It was like Black Friday, but unceasingly and without anything actually being on sale; except for the numerous items that were on sale, everywhere, and were being announced by angry looking ladies with megaphones. I found myself propelled down aisles I did not want to go down simply because of the sheer weight of the tide of people pushing against me. At every shelf there was a lady with a badge who, if she did not like the look of something I was hoping to purchase, would take it from my trolley and replace it with something else. When I did eventually arrive at the checkout – and goodness knows how I did – my trolley was full of things I didn’t remember putting in there and I still have no idea how I managed to do this whilst maintaining contact with my wife and children. We emerged from the supermarket about an hour later with little recollection of what had just happened but with several shopping bags full of ‘stuff’.
A few days later I recounted this claustrophobic and stressful experience to a colleague who has lived in China for a number of years and was reassured to hear that it was just a case of bad timing. 5pm on a Tuesday is apparently not the most relaxing time to shop for groceries in China.
So, the next weekend we opted to try a different Aeon, this time on a Saturday at around 2pm. Earlier time, different day, exactly the same experience.
Having only recently arrived and still being full of ‘have we done the right thing?’ type thoughts, we sat down and began to come to terms with the fact that we might not be able to eat anything more than the meagre supplies offered by our local shop during our time in China. Then we heard about GZGrocery.
I should mention that since this experience, almost 3 months ago, we have worked out suitable times to visit supermarkets in China and we haven’t repeated our Aeon experience again but despite this GZGrocery is still making things easier for us on a weekly basis.
For those unfamiliar with the service, GZgrocery is an online shopping website that sells everything from water and alcohol to meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. You fill your shopping cart, select a delivery time (same day delivery available if ordered before 4pm) and after saying whether you want to pay cash on arrival or via debit/credit card, you click a button and a little while later your shopping arrives.
On all occasions, the people we have dealt with at GZGrocery have spoken excellent English and customer service has been excellent. I find that the site frequently stops working for me when I come to check out but their live customer service operators (available via live chat on the website) have always been available to manually check me out immediately.
On only two occasions during the 3 months we’ve been using them have they not had something in stock and on both occasions they have brought a replacement product which has been offered at the same price.
If I had to criticize anything about the service it would be the unreliable nature of the website which, unlike Nogogo (another grocery service, more on that later), sometimes works but sometimes doesn’t. Certain product pages can be sluggish, I’ve lost the content of my basket whilst clicking between pages on a few occasions and the aforementioned issue with being unable to checkout without contacting customer service a lot of the time. But these problems come and go and haven’t, so far, stopped me from using the service.
If you haven’t already, you can check out GZgrocery at gzgrocery.cn or by clicking the picture above.