There are many ways to purchase and receive your groceries. There is the way we are most used to – selecting your groceries while going up and down the isles. The grocery store may be big or small; a traditional grocery store; a store that added a grocery section; or a membership store with large lot grocery items. They all have their pros and cons. If we live near several we probably have a favorite go-to grocery option and maybe visit other stores based on specific selection or availability of certain items. Curbside pick up can usually follow your in store preferences.
In 2017 the curbside grocery pick up option came to my area. What’s not to like? Ordering and paying for groceries online and then driving to pick up the grocery order curbside was advertised as saving time. Slogans asked what would you do with the extra time. For me, this timed well with my mobility issues. During an introductory period this service was free at my go-to grocery store, Kroger. Soon after my local Walmart added the service. What I liked best, besides not needing to go through the aisles, was that the item prices were the same in store and curbside pick up at both stores. Walmart had a minimum order cost for the service. Eventually Kroger applied a flat service fee per order.
Since 2017 more grocery stores have added curbside pick up, usually going with a third party ordering, paying, shopping service. The shopping service increased per item prices and had service fees. Until 2020 I stuck with Kroger and Walmart for curbside pick up.
There are some common features of curbside grocery pick up to consider:
- There is no guarantee that an item showing as in stock will still be available when your order is shopped.
- Typically stores will keep some high demand or scarce items for in store shoppers only. Some stores will expand in-store only to whole sections like cosmetics.
- Some items are only available to order at certain times. Mostly these are in-store prepared hot foods. Note: This will be based on the time you are creating the order; *NOT* on when you plan to pick up the order *NOR* when you think your order will be shopped. Some apps will let you select these limited time hot items any time, but be prepared for your to be shopped outside of those available hours.
- There may be a long lead time between the time you create the order and the earliest available pick up time slot. Each store has a delay time policy designed to allow staff shopping time.
- Staffing issues will affect the order ready time.
- Pay very close attention to item size. If you are not sure, check out the item’s nutritional label’s number of servings in the item details section. I accidentally ordered a bag of frozen fish sticks that turned out to be the size of a 3.5lb bag of cat food.
- If you use an app for pantry stock tracking and/or recipes/meal planning that app may be able to send a shopping list to your grocery store app. Earlier I reviewed apps that tracked pantry stock and helped with meal planning.
- Loyal customers may get bonus promotional items on occasion. These are usually new item samples. Once, I received a free flower bouquet when the store had overstocked for a holiday.
- They have a selection of food brands/flavors that I like.
- Their curbside pickup area is a separate and dedicated section of the parking lot. This is a big deal.
- You can refuse a substitute at pick up.
- At busy times there can be a long wait for a designated pickup parking space.
- At busy times your order may not be ready at your reserved time slot.
- The shopper may not be familiar with your ordered items to select a best quality, ripe, or a good substitute.
- There is a service fee.
- Their staff is very well trained to pick out quality items and usually substitutes. I never had to refuse any produce.
- You can refuse a substitute at pick up. I rarely needed to do this. They would catch a flavor or ingredient need and match a substitute accordingly.
- Most of the store is available. I was even able to pick up back to school supplies.
- Well packed bags – no cans in the same bag as bananas.
- My local Walmart is part of a strip shopping center so the designated pickup parking is in a very busy section of the parking lot.
- It can be difficult to reserve a pick up time slot.
- There is a minimum order amount. As a family of 4, including teens, I rarely have an issue with this.
- In 2020 I had an issue with the quality of eggs they stocked. You could only tell once you opened the eggs. Unfortunately it was every egg in the carton. It was also every carton I ordered over a couple of months.
Wegmans (2020 use)
- I like the Wegmans brand.
- All of the store items are available.
- Curbside pick up is actually curbside.
- Per item prices are higher than in store.
- Third party service fees.
Overall, my long term favorite choice was Walmart’s Curbside service. There are just some items that Walmart does not stock. It might be the item type, brand, flavor, or size. In these situations I recommend Wegmans.
Next up I will go through the pros and cons of grocery store delivery services. Until then, check out your favorite grocery store’s app.