Review of Voila by Sobey's grocery delivery service

Review of Sobey’s new Grocery Delivery, Voilà!

Voilà by Sobey’s is the new grocery home delivery service for people living in the Greater Toronto Area. If you’re like me, trying to reduce going in-person shopping during COVID-19, then this could be just the thing you’re looking for. Voilà is putting safety first, while also making online grocery shopping quick and easy.

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Safety First During COVID-19

Voilà’s State-of-the-Art Robotic Warehouse

Sobey’s has partnered with a leading online grocery retailer from the U.K. to build robotic automated warehouses. All groceries ordered online from Voilà are sourced from these automated warehouses, NOT your local store. These “customer fulfillment centres” use robots to assemble your order efficiently and safely. This means minimal product handling by humans.

This is a big difference from many other online grocery stores. Most other stores have runners going through the closest location to pick up all your products. This results in a high degree of handling of every product you order. Not only by those gathering your groceries, but also any other customers who picked it up and put it back on the shelf as they were browsing.

Safety Measures to Protect Employees and Customers

The Voilà by Sobey’s website notes that they have implemented numerous other safety measures to protect both their employees and their customers:

  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of the warehouse
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of the delivery vehicles
  • Delivery vehicles equipped with sanitizer and cleaning supplies
  • High hygiene standards for all employees
  • Delivery drivers wear face masks upon arrival at homes
  • Delivery drivers change gloves and sanitize in between each delivery
  • All orders are left at customers’ doors or lobbies for social distancing – no employees will enter customer homes
  • If customers are self-isolating, delivery drivers will co-ordinate the best method for delivery.
  • All employees work at a safe distance from one another to respect physical distancing
  • Temperature checks have been implemented for all employees before entering the warehouse or starting their shift
  • Employees are encouraged and supported to stay home from work if they are feeling unwell, quarantining, or caring for a sick family member
  • In the event of an employee being diagnosed with coronavirus, Voilà has committed to follow all advice from Public Health to deep clean and investigate known points of contact, plus supporting that employee through their recovery

What Voilà is NOT doing during COVID-19

Product Returns at the Door

Delivery drivers will not accept product returns when they drop off your groceries. If you would like to return a product, you will need to contact customer care.

Plastic Bag Recycling

We all want to reduce single-use plastics, and grocery bags is an easy first step for most of us. Before COVID, I always brought my cloth bags grocery shopping. And I even picked up these fabulous mesh bags from Amazon.ca for fruits, vegetables, and bulk items! (I’m getting off track here, but I really love these – they’re durable and washable, the set comes with 9 bags in 3 different sizes, and they’re sheer enough to scan the produce stickers at check-out right through the bags. Click here to see more: Lavinrose reusable mesh produce bags.)

But since March I have been ordering all my groceries online for curbside pick-up. I cringe at the number of plastic bags I have received over the past several months of ordering groceries online from a Voilà competitor.

While Voilà does not currently accept plastic bag returns for their bag recycling program, they encourage customers to hold onto their plastic bags for collection at a later date. Their website states they are working on a closed-loop recycling program including bag deposit fees and refund credits. But they’re holding off until it is deemed safe to implement this program. Even better, when the program is running they will also accept returns of plastic bags from other stores too! What a great opportunity to remove single-use plastics from our environment.

How to Order Groceries Online from Voilà

Setting up your Account

The first step is easy. They ask for your postal code, which confirms that they do in fact deliver to your area. As of summer 2020, they are only in the GTA, but they are expanding quickly.

Next it’s the usual process of setting up your online account: first and last name, address, email, and you select a password.

That’s it! The whole process is really only 2 minutes.

Choose your Delivery Date and Time

The first step is to choose your delivery time. When COVID-19 lockdowns first started, I found that most online grocery shopping had delivery dates of a week or even more! More than once I sat at my computer, waiting for the next delivery window to open up so that I could book a time slot.

Not so with Voilà! Here’s a screen shot of the options when I set up my first order on July 22nd. I could receive my groceries as early as 6am the following day! In fact, every 1-hour delivery window for the next two days was available, except for one.

Select your 1-hour delivery window, from as early as 6-7am, to as late as 9-10pm. Delivery is available 7 days a week, and you can book your delivery time up to 6 days in advance.

I like that you choose the delivery date and time first, so that you know before investing any time into placing the order that you can get your delivery at a time that works for you.

Delivery Charge and Minimum Order

As you can see from the above screenshot, there is a delivery fee of $7.99. This seems fair, since it’s delivery and not curbside pick-up.

Voilà also has a minimum order size of $50. For my family of 6, this is not a problem! If you’re a single person and $50 is more than you usually spend, you could stock up on bulk items or place a grocery order that will last you two weeks. Cleaning products are expensive, and never go bad, so you could increase your order value with some dishwasher or laundry detergent.

Selecting your Grocery Order

It was easy to find the groceries my family loves. You have two great choices here. The menu has multiple categories, analogous to “aisles” in the store. These are everything you would expect: dairy, meat and seafood, fresh produce, pantry items, beverages, baby, pets, household products, frozen foods, and more. To make it easy, sale items are at the top of the list, if you want to plan your weekly meals around discounts. There are a few surprising categories, too, as they have partnered with Farm Boy and Well.ca.

The other option is to use the search bar at the top to enter your shopping list items.

Once the list of items has come up on the screen, you can filter by several dietary options such as gluten-free, kosher, or organic. This is a real time saver, to help shoppers sift through dozens of items quickly to find the ones that meet their needs.

You can also sort the items on screen by favourites first, product name (A to Z or the reverse), total price (low to high, or high to low), or – and this is my personal favourite – price comparison (low to high, or high to low). Being able to sort grocery items by price comparison is a feature I haven’t seen anywhere else. For instance, a box of crackers can be 150g, 200g, 250g, 450g (or more sizes!) depending on the brand. Of course the prices are different, if you’re buying a larger box. The sort by price comparison feature lets you easily see the price per 100g, so you know you’re getting the best value for the size of box.

When you shop at Voilà, you can take a few extra minutes to click the “add to favourites” for each item. The next time you place an order, simply click on your “favourites” list, right in the header, to quickly add the items your family loves to your next order.

You can add items to your order up until 7pm the night before delivery. This makes it easy to add more things throughout the week as you think of them, without losing your chosen delivery time.

Want to save money on grocery shopping? See my Meal Planning Shortcuts that Save Thousands of Dollars Each Year!

Voilà’s Online Checkout Process

The online checkout process is quick and easy. Enter your preferred credit card – Voilà takes Visa, MasterCard and American Express. They will submit a pre-authorized payment on your card to secure your order, but you’ll only be charged after your delivery is completed.

The summary shows you a thumbnail picture of each of the items in your grocery cart, the total cost, how much you are saving with on-sale items, and the final cost. Taxes are added at checkout.

Change your mind and don’t want pickles anymore? Simply click the minus sign under the item and it’s removed from your cart. Want two loaves of bread instead of one? Click the plus sign!

Your original delivery time is no longer convenient? Change it right here!

Grocery Delivery

Voilà’s delivery trucks have climate controlled zones, so your pantry items arrive at regular temperature, your milk is refrigerated, and your ice cream is still frozen when it arrives at your door.

When the driver is on their way with your order, they will phone you for specific delivery instructions.

Drivers are committed to coronavirus safety standards, with physical distancing at grocery front door or lobby drop-off. They don’t come in the house or go up condo elevators. They use fresh gloves and sanitize in between orders.

Delivery times are available between 6am and 10pm, 7 days a week.

Common Questions about Voilà

  • Is there weekend delivery available? Yes! Voilà delivers 7 days a week.
  • What time can I get groceries delivered? They delivery in 1-hour windows, between 6am and 10pm every day including weekends.
  • How much is delivery? Delivery costs $7.99.
  • Is there a minimum order amount? Yes, the minimum purchase is $50.
  • Should I tip the driver? No, delivery drivers cannot accept tips.
  • Does Voilà accept Airmiles? Sadly no, but if you want to subscribe to their email list, they’ll send you promotional codes.
  • Does Voilà deliver to my area? Right now, they deliver to the GTA. This reaches from Hamilton in the west, to Oshawa in the east, and as far north as Newmarket. They are expanding quickly, so check their website for any changes.
  • Does Voilà by Sobeys offer online ordering with a pickup at store option? No, only online ordering with delivery.
  • Do I need to create an account to order online? You can browse the website without creating an account, but you will need an account in order to check out your purchases. Having an account allows you to easily reorder your favourite items, which is a big time saver.
  • Can I change or cancel my order? Yes, you can make changes or cancel your order up until the cutoff time before delivery. Remember when making changes to click “save changes” and proceed through the checkout again. You’ll receive another email with the new total cost, to confirm your changes went through correctly.
  • When will my credit card be charged? When you place an order, a hold is put on your card. This is not a charge, but rather ensures that you’ll have room on your credit card when the charge goes through. Your card will be charge at the time of delivery. It may still take a couple of days for you to see the charge reflected on your bill.
  • Will my fruit and vegetables be as fresh as if I bought my groceries in person? Voilà offers a freshness guarantee. Products are monitored in the warehouse, and delivered in temperature controlled vans, with separate sections for refrigerated and frozen foods. If you’re still not satisfied, simply contact their customer care team who will make it right.

My Honest Review of Voilà by Sobey’s

Overall, I found the online grocery shopping experience at Voilà to be fabulous. I would definitely recommend this to people living in the GTA, where it is currently available.

Let’s start with the things I didn’t like about Voilà, because there are so few.

The Negatives

If I had to find fault with Voilà, it’s that a few items I looked for on the day I placed my order were unavailable. To be fair, some were very popular items right now, like Lysol disinfecting wipes. I haven’t been able to get these from two other stores I shop at either. On the other hand, they did have 3 choices of hand sanitizer, which has been another hard to find item elsewhere. They were also out of stock on croissants and tapioca (I wanted to make a raspberry tapioca pudding recipe).

In part, the selection of items available at Voilà is a conscious choice on their part, to meet the demand for families who are choosing to eat at home during COVID-19 rather than eat out. Their website states that they are focusing on essential items first, then expanding their selection. In addition, they are limiting the quantities customers can order of high-demand items. No hoarding! (This is actually a positive!)

One of the reasons I like shopping at Sobey’s is the Airmiles. Many items give bonus miles, in addition to the regular Airmiles for every $20 spent. And if you do Airmiles Cash, you can use 95 points to get $10 off your order. However, it seems that at this time, Voilà by Sobey’s is not participating in the Airmiles program. Disappointing.

The Positives

I love that Voilà is a low-touch grocery supplier, with their robotic warehouse. They seem very committed to safety during COVID-19 for their employees and their customers.

The website loaded lightning-fast! Sometimes online shopping sites can be slow, because of all the images. Clearly Voilà has thought about this and optimized their website for speed as well as looks.

I found the process of setting up a new account to be quick and straightforward.

There is also an app for iOS and android, making it even easier to order your groceries in the way that’s most convenient for you.

You can add items to your order up until 7pm the night before delivery. This makes it easy to add more things throughout the week as you think of them, without losing your chosen delivery time.

If you order an item and it’s not available on the delivery day, they will substitute with a similar item. This is a feature other online grocery stores have, and I really like that if I order eggs I’ll get eggs, even if it’s not the brand I originally ordered. You will not be charged for any substitutes unless you approve them.

Finding and adding groceries to my online cart was fast. It was easy to find the exact items I wanted with the menu or with the search bar. The “filter”, “sort by”, and “favourite” features make it super easy to find the items your family loves, meet your dietary needs, and provide the best value.


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