When her daughter, Gwen, was about 6 years old, Tiffany Connors was determined to be a back-to-school super shopper.
“I got it in my head I wanted to save money,” says Connors, a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. “I wasn’t going to spend a dime extra.”
She flipped through countless sales flyers and mapped her route from store to store. Then…
“Gwen had a meltdown around store two,” Connors says matter-of-factly.
They had to call off the excursion.
Sound familiar? Back-to-school shopping isn’t the most pleasant experience for a lot of parents. Even now, as her daughter is about to enter the fifth grade, Connors usually has to take a day off work to get her shopping done. She only goes to two stores, but then there’s the lunch break, the traffic, the crowds… you get the picture.
“I kind of see it [school shopping] as a necessary evil,” she says.
So this year, we decided to challenge Connors: Could she use Walmart’s website to get all her school-supply shopping done in less than 30 minutes?
The Challenge: Back-to-School Shopping… in Less Than 30 Minutes
Could it really be that easy? No meltdowns? No trekking from store to store — just shopping from the comfort of your couch or at your desk during lunch?
Connors says she’d never considered doing her back-to-school shopping online, but that it was worth a shot.
She wanted to save some items on the list for Gwen to pick out in person, like her backpack and her lunchbox. Otherwise, she really has no preference on pencils, crayons, glue sticks and other basic supplies.
So, armed with her shopping list, off she went. And by that, we mean she stayed cozied up at a work station in the office.
We chose Walmart as the online shopping destination, because it came out as a top pick in our back-to-school comparison.. It just made sense, especially for a Penny Hoarder. The only rule for our challenge? Set a timer.
Surprisingly Fast Back-to-School Shopping
Twenty-five minutes later, Connors was all done.
That’s right. No taking a day off of work, fighting traffic and crowded stores, or tracking sales and clipping coupons. And the school supplies would be delivered right to her home.
Everything on her list would cost $137.58.
Pro tip: Use Walmart.com’s price-match policy if you find an identical item for a better price at another qualifying online retailer. And if an item goes on sale after you purchase? Request a price adjustment.
Is This the Best Way to Go School Shopping?
For Connors, this back-to-school shopping “trip” was a refreshing change of pace.
“It took me 25 minutes to do this, instead of taking a day off work,” she says. Plus, Connors had an easier time finding what she needed online than she would navigating busy aisles; she just had to search the name of the product. She also made life easier for herself by sorting her search results by price — low to high. That way she could find the low prices.
“Hunting for things online is 10 times easier, and you’re going to get what you need — rather than hunting at a store and potentially not finding all the items,” Connors says.
After filling her virtual cart, Connors had the option to pick her items up from her local Walmart for free or get them delivered. Orders of $35 or more qualify for free two-day delivery, or even free next-day delivery, depending on where you live and when you place your order.
Pro tip: When shopping on Walmart.com, choose whether you want to pick your order up from a store or have them delivered, then filter your search results based on your preferences.
Overall, Connors was happy with the challenge. She says she especially recommends the option to last-minute shoppers (ahem, we see you) and parents who have multiple kids (divvy up those bulk supplies).
“If you can’t take a day off work to hunt around for every good deal, then you’ll be better off shopping online,” she concludes.
*Note: Delivery is free if you purchase eligible items stocked by Walmart; however, some items are sold and shipped by third parties, which is when you’ll have to pay a small delivery fee.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.