Grocery Delivery Service Tips and Options

Grocery delivery and pickup services in the United States are a hot commodity, and it is expected to grow even more! While some people still prefer to do grocery shopping themselves, the convenience of grocery delivery is amazing! I have been both a customer and an employee of grocery services for almost a year now and I’m a fan of both the delivery and pick up options. Additionally, I’ve tried all the services available in my area. This includes Instacart, Shipt, Kroger (Payless) and Walmart Delivery. So I feel that I’ve become a bit of an expert!


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Grocery delivery vs. pickup

Grocery pickup first became available as an option for customers. Pickup allows the customer to order their groceries online and then pick them up at a selected, scheduled time. The retailer does the shopping for you and has the groceries bagged and ready for you to pickup in the store’s designated pickup area. Tips are not expected (and sometimes, not encouraged) for pickup, as the shoppers are employees of the store.

Grocery delivery is another popular option that eliminates any work for the customer. Grocery orders are made online and then a shopper is assigned to go to the store, shop for your groceries and deliver them to your doorstep. There is no pickup involved for the customer, but tips are expected.  This is an extremely great service for busy individuals, families with young children, or the elderly and disables. You will also have the option of communicating with your shopper while they are shopping if need be, delivery is more personalized with services like Instacart & Shipt. For pickup, communication with your shopper is not an option.


WALMART

Walmart offers both grocery pickup and delivery. Personally, I prefer their pickup option because I’m already at the stores doing deliveries as an employee. Walmart was a bit slower to start its delivery service option but it now available in most areas and is one of my favorites services. When I first started using the delivery service as a customer, my orders weren’t being delivered. This ended up being due to a shortage of delivery drivers, so I signed up to be a driver to see what was going on. Now there are plenty of drivers and no problems in my area (but something to keep in mind for those in areas where this is a new option). This is what you’ll want to know about the Walmart delivery service:

  • Walmart only uses an outside service provider for their delivery, however, they still use Walmart employees to shop for orders. Tips will go to the delivery driver.
  • Easy to use Walmart Grocery app! Simply add all your items to your cart, schedule a time for pickup or delivery, and pay in advance.
  • Awesome substitute system: if an item in your cart is out-of-stock, Walmart will substitute this item with something of equal or better value. I often have my generic items substituted with name brands or higher quantity items. If there is no suitable substitution available, you will be refunded the item.
  • You may not be able to pick-up or have your order delivered the same day.  Availability is as fast as the same day but not always guaranteed.  If you place your order before noon, there is a possibility you could pick it up or have delivered the same day.
  • You can order more than just groceries at Walmart! This is the one thing I love the most, I can order my personal items, pet food, kitchen utensils, crafty stuff, automobile oil, etc.
  • You can you SNAP and gift cards for Walmart Pickup.
Check out the article, Walmart Grocery – Shopping Online, Never Leave Your Car, for instructions and more tips on Walmart Grocery pickup and delivery services.
Trying Walmart pickup or delivery for the first time? Use this link for $10 off your first order! Use promo code FRESHCAR for free delivery on your first delivery order or $50 or more.

INSTACART

Instacart is a third-party shopping & delivery service that stores like Aldi, Meijer, Kroger, CVS, Target, GFS, Fresh Thyme, and more use for delivery service. With Instacart it’s more than just delivery, the shopper is shopping for you and delivers the groceries to your front door. I have worked as an Instacart shopper as an avenue to make some extra money and get out of the house, so I know this service inside and out. I enjoy shopping and am a pretty experience shopper (household of six), so it works well! This is what you’ll want to know about Instacart:

  • Instacart offers an annual membership, or anyone can opt for a non-member delivery with delivery fees. There is a minimum for delivery and this depends on if you have a membership or not ($35 minimum).
  • Groceries can be delivered in as little as 1 hour after ordering.
  • You have the option of choosing your substitutions in advance or requesting a refund for items in your cart if something is out of stock. If you don’t choose substitutions in advance, your shopper will choose a substitution (they do the best with the options that are available) or if an option is not available they will refund you the amount of the item. If you are not happy with that substitution, you can let the shopper know BEFORE they checkout or left Instacart know after delivery.
  • Instacart shoppers are briefly trained on how to shop for items and there some great shoppers out there, however, also note that there are young shoppers as well who may not be as experienced with grocery shopping. You can’t choose your shopper, but you can rate them after delivery.
  • Prices are slightly inflated with a third-service provider like Instacart, so the prices on the app for items may be slightly higher than in the store (this can be expected in any delivery service besides Walmart delivery).
  • Shoppers are required to use insulated bags to deliver your cold/hot items.
  • All shoppers have to pass a background check and driving record review before they work. This is also why shoppers are not allowed to have others shop or deliver with them unless they, too, are Instacart shoppers.
  • Text messaging is available in the app so that you and your shopper can communicate during the shopping period and delivery if need be (not required). However, the shopper does not have a number available for you to call them.
  • EBT or SNAP is not accepted.
  • Coupons are not accepted.  And you won’t be able to use discount apps like Ibotta since you receive a digital coupon via your email.
  • Shoppers pay for their own gas and are only paid a specific amount per order (based on weight and miles from the store to your home), so please note they do rely on tips for a good portion of their income. A no-tip order usually results in a loss of income for the shopper when time & gas is factored in.
Want to try Instacart? Use this link for $10 worth of free groceries and free delivery! Instacart offers a free delivery trial.

SHIPT

Just like Instacart, Shipt is a third-party delivery service for stores like Meijer, Publix, Target, GFS, Winn-Dixie, and more. I haven’t worked for Shipt, but I have been a customer (I tried the 2-week trial service and decided I wanted to stick with Walmart and Instacart instead, Shipt extended my trial for another 2 months free delivery to try it longer).  It’s pretty much the same as Instacart except for a few noticeable differences. This is what you’ll want to know about Shipt:

  • I’ve had the best customer service with Shipt (in comparison to all the other delivery services).  My shoppers have been friendly and helpful, and Shipt customer service has been great.
  • Groceries are delivered fast (in as little as 1 hour).
  • Shoppers are scheduled and there seem to be plenty of them!  In fact, my shoppers have always delivered my orders earlier than the scheduled delivery time due to having been just “waiting for orders.”
  • The app is more difficult to navigate.  If I’m being honest, I don’t like the Shipt app as a customer.  It has “froze” and crashed on me several times when trying to order items.  And there are no options to filter items (such as by price, size, etc.) so it takes much longer for me to find items to add to my cart.
  • You have the option for “substitution preferences” after ordering, however, I’ve never been able to find this.  I’ve had to add it to the “notes” of the item any substitutions I’d like or wait for the shopper to contact me.
  • EBT or SNAP is not accepted.
  • Coupons are not accepted.  And you won’t be able to use discount apps like Ibotta since you receive a digital coupon via your email.
  • Prices are slightly inflated with a third-service provider like Instacart, so the prices on the app for items may be slightly higher than in the store (this can be expected in any delivery service besides Walmart delivery).
  • Text messaging is available in the app so that you and your shopper can communicate during the shopping period and delivery if need be (not required).
  • More limited on stores they offer for delivery services.
Want to try Shipt? Use this link for $50 off membership when you sign up! 

KROGER (PAY LESS) PICKUP

Just like Walmart, Kroger/Pay Less has a pickup option available.  Although they use Instacart for their delivery, you can opt to shop online through the Kroger app and pickup groceries yourself at the store.  This is what you’ll want to know about Kroger/Pay Less Pickup:

  • You don’t have to use a third-party app to order groceries, you shop on the Kroger/Pay Less website (or app) and check-out there.
  • Prices are the same as in the store since you are not paying for the luxury of delivery.
  • Since some Pay Less stores don’t offer delivery service yet, this is a great option if you only live in the area where delivery is not available
  • You can use your Kroger/Pay Less Rewards card.  And although you can’t use coupons, there are pickup-specific coupons available to use.
  • Groceries are packaged in paper bags rather than plastic (at least at our store).
  • The store employees will
  • Pickup hours are typically from 7 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week (this varies by store).
  • They do not accept SNAP, EBT, or WIC as forms of payment for pickup.
  • Unlike Walmart, they do charge a service fee for pickup (the first 3 pickups are free).
  • For substitutions, if the same type of out-of-stock item is available in a larger quantity, your order will be upgraded to the larger item if available. You can refuse any substitutions upon pickup.

TIPS FOR THE BEST DELIVERY EXPERIENCE:

  • Shoppers for delivery services providers are paid a minimum base pay calculated by the number of items shopped and miles driven between the store and home. Shoppers pay for their own gas and create their own hours. They do have the option to decline or accept orders that are sent to them but they rely heavily on tips for the majority of their income. Most shoppers do this part-time as a means to earn extra, needed income. Please note this when considering a tip.
  • You can still request special items to be added to your cart while your shopper is shopping (for Instacart and Shipt). Chatting with your shopper is available through the app to do this. Please note, the shopper will not get paid by the service provider for additional items but they are usually willing to go above and beyond (because, happy customer = better tips)
  • Although delivery services only advise for the shoppers to deliver to the door, some shoppers will go above and beyond and bring your groceries in & unload them. This is NOT advised by the service provider, for liability reasons. However, as a shopper, I have helped customers who are elderly or disabled.
  • Shoppers and delivery drivers are required to be able to lift up to 50 lbs. If you have made a “special request” for an item that weighs more than 50 lbs, please note they made need help to unload the item(s).
  • Most delivery drivers do not carry cash on them, please note this if you are tipping in cash and need change. There is always an option to tip digitally in the app as well.
  • Have clearly marked address numbers on your home and keep a front light on if deliver is being made after dark.
  • Please put dogs and pets away while your groceries are being delivered. As someone who has been bitten by a dog before, I can tell you this often makes delivery drivers nervous and hesitant to deliver.
  • If you have children napping or asleep, please make a note of this in your “delivery instructions” so that the shopper will knock instead of ringing the doorbell.
  • Please don’t request or insist on a paper receipt from your shopper/delivery driver.  Per policy, they are not allowed to give these to the customer and in some cases, don’t have them.  The store or third-party delivery service will send the customer a digital receipt.
  • If you would just like your groceries to be left at the door, you can request this in the “delivery instructions” for Shipt or Instacart, however, you must be home for Walmart delivery (a signature by someone over 18 years old is required).
  • If you order alcohol (an option not available in Indiana), you must be present for delivery with an ID and signature.

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