Why You Need to Try Online Grocery Delivery

Review of InstaCart, Shipt, Kroger Clicklist and Amazon Prime Now Grocery Delivery

Before kids, grocery shopping didn’t feel like a chore. I loved hitting the store early, strolling the aisles with a Starbucks in hand and plunking new foods and wines in my cart. Post kids, I’d rather go to the dentist than shop with my kids in tow. It’s not that they’re poorly behaved, but at least at the dentist I get headphones and 30 minutes of peace and quiet. Grocery shopping is just not how I want to spend my time these days, so now that we live in a city where we can get groceries delivered, I’ve happily outsourced this task. Here’s a breakdown of why I love grocery delivery so much and which service worked best for our family. Plus, if you’re like me looking for ways to be more efficient in the new year, this is a good one!

I usually order groceries online 1-2 times per week. We eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies so like to refresh mid-week. I still end up popping into a local farmers market or Trader Joe’s for meat, fish, wine and flowers, but those trips are a bit more leisurely and don’t have to happen weekly.

THE BENEFITS

  • The time saved is the biggest factor. It takes me an average of 17 minutes to order all of our groceries online compared with nearly 90 minutes if I go shopping myself. And that’s if I don’t bring the kids along!
  • I avoid the hassle of lugging the groceries from my car, through the parking garage and up to our apartment. This is really key on days where I have lots of bulky items like laundry detergent and paper towel that require multiple trips.
  • I spend less money because I don’t end up with a bunch of impulse purchases in my cart. This especially true at Target (see below for how I use Target delivery).
  • I can deliver to multiple locations. I’ve used grocery delivery services to deliver to hotels and a hospital.

THE ANALYSIS

Over the past year, I’ve tried most of the major delivery players in our area. I’ve summed up my experience in detail below. For those that want to skip all of the detail and just hear my recommendation, the bottom line is that Shipt is by far the best delivery service for the money for us.

Shipt has plenty of available delivery windows, professional, friendly shoppers and good customer service. Plus, I can shop as frequently as I want for one flat fee.  In addition to groceries, Shipt will also deliver orders from Target order in addition to my groceries. Why does that matter, you ask? Do you know how much money I save by not physically going into a Target store?! Perhaps you have more self-restraint than me, but I can’t be trusted to walk out of Target without at least 4 things I never knew I needed. Having someone else do the shopping ensures I only pay for the Pull-ups and hair conditioner I actually went in to get.

Now that you know how and why I use grocery delivery, if you want to hear what I liked and didn’t like about each of the services, keep reading. Also, scroll to the bottom for a great parenting hack about how we use grocery delivery when we travel.

Yes, this chart is a throw-back to my management consulting days. I’m a geek, I know.

SHIPT

I signed up for a Shipt membership during their Mother’s Day promotion. The annual fee was $50 and for that, I get unlimited deliveries with no minimum order amount. I believe the regular fee is $99 annually. With Shipt, I can place an order 24/7 with delivery slots available from early morning to very late at night. Most of the time, I can get an order delivered within a few hours of when I place it.

The app is easy to use and remembers the items that I buy most frequently, so reordering is a breeze. After more than two dozen deliveries, I can say that all of the shoppers have been prompt and professional. Plus, I like that there is an option to give extra direction to shoppers, (like “if they don’t have organic pears, please substitute conventional ones”) or to make special requests for products that aren’t already in the app. In our area, Shipt delivers from Publix, Kroger, CostCo and Target.

INSTACART

InstaCart is the outsourced delivery vendor for a number of grocery chains in our area, like Kroger and Publix. But InstaCart also offers its own direct-to-consumer shopping experience via its app. InstaCart was the first grocery delivery service I tried and from there, I was hooked! I love that I can shop the widest number of stores (Aldi, Publix, CostCo, Petco, Whole Foods, etc.). However, I didn’t love the steep membership cost ($149 annually at the time of this posting). You can forgo membership, and then deliveries range from $5.99-$7.99 per order for orders >$35. I also had the most out-of-stock experiences with InstaCart and while I had no specific complains with the service, I just found Shipt to be better.

KROGER CLICKLIST

I had the best all-around experience using Kroger Clicklist, which is the in-house delivery arm of our local Kroger grocery chain. I liked the user interface and the abundant delivery windows. Plus, the ordering system seemed to integrate with the store’s inventory so I didn’t experience a lot of out-of-stock items. This was a huge plus for me. Unfortunately, though, at $10.99 per delivery (plus tip), it’s just too expensive. As I said, we generally order 1-2 times per week, so I can’t justify that cost with so many lower priced options in our area.

AMAZON PRIME NOW

Amazon Prime Now is the delivery arm of Whole Foods/Amazon. When they announced delivery a few months ago, I was so excited to try it out. I love the idea of getting more benefit out of the Prime Membership we already have. Sadly, I wasn’t impressed with my first two order experiences. For starters the website was clunky and gave too many product options with huge price variations. As a result, it took me more than an hour to place my first order.

Second, ordering required two separate deliveries – one for the pantry items like toilet paper and another for perishable food items. The only available slots were in different delivery windows, so the actual deliveries arrived three hours apart. Who wants to be tied to the house for 3+ hours waiting for deliveries?!

I was also underwhelmed with the service I received from the shoppers/delivery personnel. Neither shopper said hello, and one gentleman was in such a rush that he literally slid our groceries across the foyer. The food quality was also poor. My tomatoes arrived smooshed, the avocados rock hard and I got an open, spoiled package of turkey bacon. Finally, with Amazon, you tip at checkout, which doesn’t allow you to adjust your tip based on the actual service received.

GROCERY DELIVERY FAQs

  • I’m really picky about fruit/veggies, etc. How do I know the shopper will get the best produce? You don’t. But I also know that after thumping ten cantaloupes, I sometimes end up with a bland piece of fruit too. Shoppers are trained to shop efficiently and for good customer feedback, so I presume that means not getting the worst fruit and veggies. If I have a specific request, like already-ripe bananas for smoothies tomorrow morning, I just note it in the comments section. To date, I’ve only had two quality issues and in both cases the companies fixed them immediately.
  • What if the store is out of something? It happens. In my experienceyou have the option of giving the shopper discretion to make substitutions on your behalf. Otherwise, they will contact you by text/phone if the store is out of an item so you can advise on alternatives. I find it tedious to answer multiple texts, so I usually ask them not to substitute anything. Instead, I just pick it up the next time I’m out or wait until my next order day and try again.
  • Will the shopper unpack my groceries for me? Not in my experience. But this is a great chore for my kids and they both get in on the act of bringing the bags inside and putting the items away.
  • How much do you tip? This is something I’m still figuring out myself – I’m open to any advice here. The Shipt app defaults to 20% of the order, which in our case is usually about $40-45. That seems really high to me and frankly, if that’s truly the prevailing rate, I’ll have to go back to grocery shopping myself. Instead, I tip based on the shopper’s level of helpfulness and the size/complexity of the order, usually between $7-15.
  • What if I don’t have grocery delivery in my area? Check with your local grocery store. I found that while our local Kroger in Michigan doesn’t have delivery, they offer curbside pickup. Order online, pull up to the curb at the appointed time and someone loads your groceries in your trunk. To me, that’s the next best thing, especially in cold Detroit winters!

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Parenting Hack #1008

When we travel, I always ask the hotel to send up a mini-fridge to our room. Most hotels have them if you ask when you make the reservation. Then, I schedule a grocery delivery to arrive at the front desk an hour before we check in. I order milk, bottled water, crackers, cheese cubes, apples, baby food, and even diapers. It sounds high maintenance, but it really saves a fortune on room service. I’ve been guilty of paying $10 for a glass of milk for each kid – insane, I know. Plus, we have enough fresh, healthy snacks and diapers for the plane ride home without using valuable space in our luggage.

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