Sometimes, it is just easier to let someone else do the shopping. If it were up to me, I’d never have to go grocery shopping (I know a lot of people love it, but it’s definitely not my favorite thing). I do go grocery shopping, and often. But I have also used grocery pick-up and delivery services enough to have some insight I want to share some grocery delivery pros and cons with you – and help you pick which service (if any!) is the best for you.
First of all, what a magical world we live in where we can order groceries from a device we carry around with us and have them delivered to our house. For those of us who don’t love grocery shopping, or are super busy, this is a true blessing!
But after using several services over the course of several years, I do have some things to say.
Grocery Delivery Pros and Cons
There are two main services I’m talking about. One is Grocery Pick-up, where you order your groceries online through your grocery store’s website and then drive up to the grocery store and have them brought to your car. Many, if not most, major supermarkets and big box stores offer this service, even in rural areas. This is very handy if you have a busy day or want to coordinate grocery pick-up around other errands.
The other service is Grocery Delivery, where you order online and the groceries are delivered to your home. Some grocery stores offer this service, but you can now also use third party providers, too. I often use Instacart and Shipt. These services have apps you can install on your device, or you can order from your laptop (which I often do while working!). You put in your order and someone goes and does your shopping, and delivers it to your door. Depending on your area, these services supply several local stores – so you can put in an order for Target or Sprouts or even Aldi in addition to your large grocery stores.
Why should I use grocery pick-up and delivery services?
Here are some of the things I LOVE about having my groceries delivered.
You don’t have to do the shopping. Someone else does it for you! This is a HUGE timesaver for some people. On weekends when we have a ton of plans, or busy weekdays, this can mean the difference between having fresh groceries in the house or going out to dinner. This is also really helpful if you’re traveling (more on that below).
Did I mention you don’t have to do the shopping?
You can schedule your pick-up or delivery around your day. Every service I have used lets you pick your time slot, which is usually a one-hour window.
You’re not nearly as likely to impulse shop when you’re shopping online and someone else is doing the buying.
You can leave notes for every food item to help your shopper. I’ve learned to leave a note on all of my produce saying DO NOT BUY UNLESS FRESH because you’d be surprised what people will pick out.
With the delivery services, your shopper can contact you via the app or text with updates. I love that with both Instacart and Shipt I know when my shopper arrives at the grocery store, when they’re checking out, and when they are headed to my house. They will also usually text me if an item on my list isn’t available (you can set preferences for things like this when you put in your order).
You can use these services when you travel. When we went to Sedona for a week, I used Instacart to stock the house with groceries. It was a massive time-saver and meant more time vacationing, less time grocery shopping. It also saved us a ton of money as we ate home home most days (you can see how I meal planned for that vacation here!).
Why shouldn’t I use grocery store pick-up/delivery services?
Here are some of the things I DON’T love about using these services.
You don’t get to pick out your own produce or meat. The person shopping for you might not choose the way you would choose. I’ve received bad produce from every service I’ve tried at one time or another (all services have a way to report it and get your money refunded for that item, but that doesn’t help much when you needed that item for a recipe that night).
Sometimes an item will be out of stock and the shopper won’t know what to replace it with. So, on most platforms, you can choose a back-up product or ask them to make their best choice on your behalf. When this is a problem is if, for example, I was shopping and needed Sunchips because I’d promised them to my kids, but they were out-of-stock. If I were shopping, I’d find the next best thing, knowing what my kids (or myself!) would want (Pirate’s Booty, of course). But obviously a shopper can’t know this and it’s impossible to think of every variable when you’re creating your list.
You will have to pay delivery or service fees. The exception to this is Grocery Pick-up. These are usually free. Most services also have free sample periods, so you can try them without paying a fee. Also, I regularly get promos from my local grocery store, Instacart, AND Shipt that waive or reduce the service fees during promotional periods.
While a tip is not required, I feel like I should need to tip my Instacart and Shipt shoppers, just because the apps give you an option to do so. I do this through the app after they’ve dropped off my groceries though, never in person.
Mostly, the pros outweigh the cons (for my scenario, anway). Still, if we’re shopping for lots of meat or produce, I prefer to do our own shopping. So in a pinch, or when time is tight, or when I’m traveling – I am so grateful for these services.