Why Trader Joe's Will Never Sell Anything Online

These days, we can shop for pretty much everything imaginable online: clothing, furniture, electronics, books, prescription medicine, and groceries. In just a few clicks, people can have nearly whatever they want shipped straight to their doorsteps, arriving in a matter of days, and, in some cases, even within hours or minutes.

Companies like Instacart, Amazon, FreshDirect, and Peapod have paved the way for consumers to do all of their grocery shopping from the comfort of their own homes or setting up deliveries while on the go. Especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were encouraged to stay home or found restrictions when they did venture outside, grocery delivery services skyrocketed in popularity. A study from Oxford Academic found that 34% of households have done their grocery shopping online more since the pandemic, and 60% plan to continue. Additionally, according to research group Mercatus, e-commerce is predicted to make up 11% of overall grocery sales in 2022 and over 20% by 2026.

There is one major retailer, however, that does not offer the option to buy its products online — and has no plans to change that moving forward. Here is why grocer Trader Joe's vows to continue drawing its customers to its physical locations only.

Shopping at a Trader Joe's store is part of the brand experience

Trader Joe's is known for its wide variety of unique, affordable, buzzworthy products — from frozen meal kits to fresh produce to candies to artisan cheeses to sweet and savory snacks. But in order to get THEIR hands on these coveted goods, including some foods with their own cult followings, customers are required to travel to their nearest location. Even the brand's most loyal customers understand the importance of immersing oneself in the store's atmosphere. Trader Joe's, for that reason, pledges to remain out of the e-commerce realm. You can learn more about the company and the different products stocked on its shelves at the Trader Joe's website, but one thing you will not find while browsing: an option to add your shopping list items to a virtual cart of any kind.

Joe Basalone, the company's president of stores, spoke with The Kitchn about why browsing the aisles is essential to upholding what Trader Joe's is all about. "For us, the store is our brand, and our products work the best when they're sold as part of this overall customer experience within the store," he explained. "We're not ready to give that up. For us, the brand is too important, and the store is our brand." If you want to relish in the magic of Trader Joe's, the only way to experience it is by actually being there.