When customers purchase groceries online, the order is overnighted to their home. Or hand-delivered the same day. Or available within hours at a store-side pickup window.

It’s fast, easy, convenient.

Unless the order is delayed. Or shipping costs too much. Or the customer receives tired-looking lettuce.

Online, delivery and drive-thru retailing strategies as supplements or substitutes for brick-and-mortar grocery stores are either the next new thing or an idea whose time hasn’t yet come—and maybe never will. In today’s economic climate, how does a retailer decide whether a new way to sell groceries is worth the plunge? Follow our guide to find out.