Overnight shipping makes it possible for people around the county to experience fresh, high-quality seafood, but knowing where to place your order can be difficult if you don’t live near a coast. Whether it’s live lobster delivery, fresh crab meat, or frozen salmon fillets, ordering seafood online is becoming an increasingly popular option. The options can seem endless, which make it difficult to know where to buy seafood online.
It takes more than a quick glance to order fresh, frozen, and live seafood. Customers will need to find reputable sellers that guarantee the best-quality product possible, but knowing how to do that requires a strategy. If you want to order seafood online for an upcoming meal, this guide is a great place to start. We have also compiled lists of reputable seafood providers for Maine Lobster and Alaskan Salmon to aid your search, especially if you’re looking for a side-by-side price comparison.
What to Look For
High-quality company are distinguishable from the rest, but learning to find them can be tough. If you want to buy seafood online, whether live, fresh, or frozen, you’ll want to start by looking at a company’s customer testimonials and Yelp pages. This is a great way to determine the quality of a product before buying. Importantly, you’ll also be able to assess the company’s customer service availability should anything go awry in the ordering and shipping process. When you’re dealing with fresh and frozen seafood, a great customer service experience is nearly as important as the product itself.
In the online fish selling industry, most companies tend to fall into one of two categories: vertically integrated and specialized. Vertically integrated companies control every step of the sale, from harvesting and inspecting to marketing, selling, and shipping. These companies tend to only sell a few types of seafood, as they often have specialized harvesting methods. This top-to-bottom control allows businesses to better understand and ensure the quality of their product; they oversee every step of the process.
Specialized companies, on the other hand, control one step of the business, be it fishing, selling, or shipping. These businesses can offer a greater number of products because they sell from a variety of sources, often fishers who live up and down the coast. While specialized companies are great if you want seamless shipping and a larger product selection, they have less control over quality and harvesting.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to pick a provider with a robust customer testimonial page and a quality assurance guarantee.
Quality Assurance Matters
No matter the company structure you prefer, it is important to wade through their online information and look for signs of success and accreditation. If you’ve spent any time searching for places to buy seafood online, you’ve probably figured out that online seafood providers often look alike. From photos of fishing boats to profiles of the fishermen and stories of family founders, these websites play up the idea that, despite buying online, you’re supporting an independent, family-owned business. Even large companies like to talk about their “humble roots.”
While these stories are heartwarming, they also point to a larger trend in the online fish marketplace. Companies want to prove their authenticity through stories and emotional appeal, but unless they have the licenses, sustainability measures, and quality guarantees to back it up, you can’t trust their product.
Remember that reputable companies want to broadcast everything positive about their business and provide the potential customer with quality assurance at every step. If an online fish seller does not advertise any quality guarantees or sustainability measures, it’s likely because they don’t offer that service. If you don’t see anything about these two measures, we recommend contacting the company and asking about sourcing and guarantees directly.
Shopping in the Store? Look for This
If you’re lucky enough to live close to the coast, you’re more likely to find excellent, high-quality seafood in stores and at local markets. This eliminates the need to pay for shipping, which can significantly cut costs. Plus, you won’t have to schedule a shipment, which means you can easily buy fish when it is most convenient for you.
That said, shopping at a market allows customers to better assess a product, but that does not necessarily make it the best place to buy seafood. If you can buy locally sourced seafood at the store, look for these signs of quality.
- Avoid meat that appears discolored. While the hue itself will depend on the seafood, yellows, browns, black, and spots are never good.
- If the catch date is not advertised, ask the salesperson.
- If the product is not stored on ice or in a cooler, don’t buy it.
- If you want to buy lobster meat, look for live lobster or frozen meat. Never buy an already dead lobster unless it is frozen, as the meat can spoil rapidly.