Marketplace Logo Donate

Daily business news and economic stories from Marketplace

More stores are accepting SNAP benefits for online grocery orders

Heard on:
A sign noting the acceptance of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards is displayed in a shop window behind two cardboard boxes, one filled with oranges, the other filled with oranges.

Until recently, most grocery stores weren’t accepting SNAP online. But now retailers like Walmart, Amazon and recently Wegmans have begun to. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

get the podcast

The temporary pandemic boost to SNAP benefits, formerly called food stamps, will run out next week.

But one result of the expansion is that more stores began accepting SNAP as payment for online grocery orders. Wegmans just became the latest supermarket chain to do that.

For some people, online grocery shopping for curbside pickup or delivery is a convenience. But it’s a necessity for others, explained Ellen Vollinger, SNAP director at the Food Research and Action Center.

“Housebound seniors, people who might be immunocompromised and may come with different mobility challenges and needs — they may live in places that are far distant from the grocery store,” she said.

Those populations are also more likely to be affected by food insecurity. For instance, one in five SNAP households includes someone with a disability. But until recently, most grocery stores weren’t accepting SNAP online.

“All of that got accelerated early in 2020 when social distancing became a reality in the United States,” Vollinger said.

Now, many major retailers including Walmart and Amazon accept SNAP online. Part of the delay was because stores lacked the technical infrastructure. 

“The real key for retailers to be able to accept SNAP payments is through signing on with the right payment processor who’s able to accept and validate the SNAP pin,” said Bobby Gibbs, a food retail consultant at Oliver Wyman. 

That’s the numerical code recipients use to access their funds. That payment processing ability required partnerships between local governments and companies.

Expanding access to online ordering is the right move for both ethical and business reasons, said food industry analyst Phil Lempert.

“Because, you know, this is a very loyal customer,” he said.

SNAP spending makes up between 20% and 30% of an average grocery store’s sales, Lempert added.

And a good website that caters to SNAP recipients can keep them coming back, he said. “Online tools really can hone in on the nutritional value of foods, what’s on sale” — and what foods are SNAP-eligible.

What's Next

Latest Episodes From Our Shows

6:20 PM PDT
4:08 PM PDT
1:42 PM PDT
Jun 2, 2023
Jun 2, 2023
Jun 1, 2023
May 30, 2023
Exit mobile version