#grocery, grocery delivery

Grocery Shopping, Local Delivery Revisited

A while back I wrote about my experiences with grocery shopping. With life slowly opening up, COVID vaccines available to those over 12 years old, and public restrictions easing, I decided to revisit my reporting of local grocery delivery services. 

My local options include my old inperson go-to Kroger, my go-to curbside pickup Walmart, and in no particular order: Publix; Food Lion; Amazon Fresh; Whole Foods; and Wegmans. This time around I did not explore either Kroger nor Whole Foods.

The popular third party grocery shopping service in my area is Instacart.  For these partner stores, when you run into a problem with an item delivered or purchased and not delivered, you contact the Instacart Customer Service. I continue to be satisfied with the outcome when I have needed to contact customer service.  

Groceries to the side of a door.
Groceries to the side of a door.

Local grocery delivery options have common features to consider:

  1. There is no guarantee that an item showing as in stock will still be available when your order is shopped.
  2. 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 schedule order delivery *NOR* when you think your order will be shopped. Some store apps will let you select these limited time hot items any time, but be prepared for your order to be shopped outside of those available hours.
  3. There may be a long lead time between the time you create the order and the earliest available delivery time slot. Each store has a delay time policy designed to allow staff shopping time. With more people doing their own in person shopping, it is getting much easier to order 2 to 4 hours ahead. I have seen express delivery fee/subscription options but I have enough local grocery options to change stores if one store is booked solid. 
  4. 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. Even our cats grew tired of the occasional fish stick treat.
  5. 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.
  6. You need to be available while your order is shopped in case your shopper has questions about an item (label changes), needs to give you a substitute, or let you know the store is completely out of an item. I am texted a picture of an empty shelf at times. 
  7. There is usually a delivery fee. There are usually monthly and/or yearly delivery subscriptions available.
  8. During busy times delivery drivers are handling multiple orders at once. This may cause items to be delivered to the wrong customer. All stores have procedures to find your items or refund if needed. Sometimes a driver will discover the mistake and be able to fix the problem quickly.
  9. The driver tipping amount is an option when placing your order. Look closely as you may be allowed to change the tip after delivery.
  10. The exact spot by your front door where your groceries are placed varies by driver. No big deal as long as you can easily step out to pick up the bags.
  11. Pay attention to the delivery address and which store is shopped. I ordered a surprise group of study treats for my college student. The next order was for home after she was home. You guessed it, I’m sure. It went to her empty apartment. Friends there for graduation swung by, picked up, and brought back the groceries in a cooler.
Groceries in front of door.
Groceries in front of door.

Amazon Fresh

Pros:

  1. I can place a same day delivery order.
  2. They do the best job packing the groceries. This applies to having sturdier bags as well as how items are grouped within the bags.
  3. Last year my only con was a limited selection depth.  They have expanded their selection depth. In my area, Amazon Fresh has their own brand items too.

Cons:

  1. They have added delivery fees with Prime membership for orders based on the delivery window selected. For orders over $35, a two hour window (1pm-3pm) is free and a 1 hour window (2pm – 3pm) has a fee. My last order was over $35 and I needed a one hour window. Orders under $35 have increased delivery window fees.
Amazon Fresh bags next to door.
Amazon Fresh bags next to door.

Food Lion

Pros:

  1. The shopper will work with you for substitutions.
  2. You can watch the shoppers progress with your order.
  3. It is a smaller store so the shopping goes quicker.
  4. The item prices are generally lower than other stores.
  5. I always receive status updates: shopper starting; item issues; checking out; out for delivery; and delivered. 

Cons:

  1. The per item price is higher for delivery than in store shopping,
  2. There is a delivery service fee.

Publix

Pros:

  1. They frequently have 2 for 1 or similar sales for my frequent items.
  2. They usually have a spend $x on a group of items option to waive the delivery fee. At least half of the time my shopping can qualify in one of the offered groups.
  3. I like many of their brand items.

Cons:

  1. Their per item prices are higher for delivery than in store shopping.
  2. They have a delivery service fee.
  3. They frequently do not give status updates. In 90 degree heat, they left my groceries at the door early without a doorbell ring, knock, or text. I didn’t know for over a half hour. Yes, meat was ruined. 

Walmart

Pros:

  1. Most of the store is available. I was even able to pick up back to school supplies.
  2. You are emailed substitutes and are given a deadline to refuse them.

Cons:

  1. There is a minimum order amount. As a family of 4, including teens, I rarely have an issue with this.
  2. I do tend to have problems getting items from the opposite side of the store (pets and health/beauty care) during busy times.

Wegmans

Pros:

  1. I like the Wegmans brand.
  2. All of the store items are available.
  3. I can usually place a same day delivery order.
  4. A shopper works with you on any needed substitutions.
  5. They have large selections to cover different diet needs.
  6. They give the best consistent information about the item size/amount.

Cons:

  1. Per item prices are higher than in store.
  2. Third party service fees.
Randomly dropped grocery bags.
Randomly dropped grocery bags.

My go-to grocery delivery is Food Lion and Walmart. The items I need will usually decide which I use. When I need to stock up on my special diet needs or a specific favorite store item, I turn to Wegmans. I love Wegmans dessert selections and lamb chops.

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