The ongoing global pandemic has changed the way we approach just about every aspect of our daily lives, including how we shop for groceries. In an effort to limit contact, keep up social distancing measures and avoid high traffic areas, many people found themselves using grocery delivery apps for the first time over the past year. As someone who has always found grocery shopping to be a chore, grocery delivery apps have become one of the only silver linings in the current pandemic state. Do I prefer grocery shopping with a few clicks to running up and down every aisle trying to figure out if peanut butter is next to the bread or cereal? Yes, I do. I’ll get my steps in some other way.
For those who suffer from mobility issues, new parents, the eldery, and anyone who could use a few extra minutes in their day to work or relax, grocery delivery has been a saving grace. Grocery store apps have been a saving grace for many as the pandemic has made us fearful of venturing out into stores. Delivery service workers typically fulfill multiple orders at once, which helps limit the number of people who would otherwise be in the store. This helps to protect essential workers, who have been forced to physically show up for work throughout the pandemic by limiting their contact with people outside their home.
As with most conveniences, there is a fee attached to delivery apps. Some charge a flat delivery rate, while others build it into the item price.
Some delivery apps provide a curbside pickup option, which is often free or has a small fee attached. If you own a car, this is typically the least expensive way to buy groceries without having to venture into the store. But for those without transportation or who are willing to spend a bit more for added convenience, grocery delivery is a great way to outsource a time-consuming chore and help reduce your chance of exposure to COVID-19. Just make sure to tip your delivery people well! Their tip (not the delivery fee — that goes to the app company) often makes up the bulk of their income).
Ready to find the best grocery delivery app for you? Take a look through our list below!
Works With: Several major grocery chains, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, PetCo, major alcohol retailers, Sephora, Best Buy, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Buy Buy Baby.
What To Know: InstaCart offers delivery and curbside pickup options for most of the companies they work with. Customers are able to add the tip for their delivery person either when they place the order or after it has been delivered. In some cases, delivery people will message customers while they’re shopping to confirm any necessary substitutions. InstaCart often runs promotions offering coupons for frequent users and their customer service is responsive and helpful.
The Small Print: Fees begin at $3.99 for same-day delivery and vary depending on the store. InstaCart adds a 5% fee to non-alcoholic items for non-InstaCart Express members. Customers can pay to become an InstaCart Express member to help waive delivery fees and receive other promotions.
Works With: Target (owns Shipt), Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Office Depot, PetCo, Sur La Table and some major grocery chains.
What To Know: Shipt is a delivery service available across the US and can be accessed on Apple or Android phones. Customers place their order, which can often be made the same day, and receive updates while their delivery person shops. Shipt allows for some last-minute additions to their orders and makes it easy for customers to approve or deny substitutions if necessary.
The Small Print: Downloading the Shipt app is free but customers must pay a fee when making a purchase. Customers can pay per order, purchasing Shipt passes for one, three, or five Shipt shops for $10, $9 or $8 per delivery, respectively, or they can purchase a $99 annual membership. Products are typically more expensive when bought through the Shipt app and a $7 delivery fee is added for all orders under $35 for non-members, but unlike many delivery apps, Shipt doesn’t have a minimum purchase amount.
3. Amazon Prime
Works With: Whole Foods, Amazon Warehouse.
What To Know: Whole Foods customers who want to order delivery or curbside pickup can only do so using the Amazon site. There is no delivery fee, but customers are expected of course to tip their delivery drivers. Amazon Prime customers can also order dry goods and personal products through their account, with some orders that are $35 and over available for same-day or two-hour delivery.
The Small Print: Amazon Prime’s annual membership is $119 per year, which also gives customers access to the company’s video and music library and free shipping on eligible products. Whole Foods also offers in-store and delivery discounts on certain foods to Amazon Prime members.
Works With: Most independent and chain grocery stores, alcohol stores and pharmacies.
What To Know: In 2017, Postmates launched Postmates Fresh, which expanded the company’s offerings beyond restaurant delivery. Customers can now order from their local grocery store, alcohol retailer, pharmacy, and even several specialty stores, like bakeries.
The Small Print: Delivery fees vary by restaurant and store, but customers can sign up for Postmates Unlimited. For $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, customers will receive free delivery on every order over $10.
Works With: Local grocery stores.
What To Know: FreshDirect is ideal for customers who want to order groceries in advance or easily sort through specific categories when shopping online, like Kosher items, gluten-free products or food made by women-led companies. The delivery service has limited availability and is mostly found in the Northeastern states and Mid-Atlantic. The company does often run deals and customers can also order alcoholic beverages.
The Small Print: Customers will pay more per item when ordering from FreshDirect compared to purchasing their items in-store. Delivery fees range from $5.99 per order and up or customers can purchase a delivery pass for $79 for six months or $129 for a year. The delivery pass provides free delivery and special bonuses, including $5 off purchases made between Tuesdays and Fridays.
Works With: Local grocery and specialty stores.
What To Know: Dumpling connects customers with a personal shopper with whom they can build a relationship through the app, helping to get a more personalized shopping experience. Customers place orders the same way they would on any other delivery app, including choosing a delivery time and tip amount, but with Dumpling, they are able to interact more with their shopper and ensure all their needs are met. Dumpling is focused on providing a more equitable pay structure for their delivery workers and building relationships with customers. The app allows personal shoppers to pick what tip options their customers see and set their own minimum tip amount, hoping to help curb the high instances of gig workers being taken advantage of in the delivery market.
The Small Print: Customers pay 5% on top of orders to cover the cost of payment processing.
Works With: Walmart.
What To Know: Walmart uses its own delivery service for groceries and other in-store items. The company regularly updates its inventory, which means fewer out-of-stock surprises after an order has been placed. The company offers a pickup option as well and unlike most delivery apps, Walmart does not charge more for items that are picked up or delivered compared to their in-store price.
The Small Print: Walmart requires a minimum $30 order amount and there is a delivery fee of up to $9.95. In some areas, customers can sign up for WalMart+ and have their delivery fee waived for $12.95 per month or $98 per year.
8. Imperfect Foods
Works With: Imperfect Foods has its own distribution chain.
What To Know: Imperfect Foods was designed to solve two problems at once — reducing the waste of food with cosmetic damage or that stores have an excess inventory of, and providing healthy food at an affordable price. Customers fill out a questionnaire on the company’s site, including how many people are in their home, any dietary preferences or restrictions and what meals they typically eat at home. The company delivers a weekly curated box based on the customer’s answers and can fine-tune their offering to exactly fit individual needs. The food included often has some minor cosmetic damage but still tastes just as good as what customers would find in a grocery store. The box typically includes fruit and vegetables, grains, and dairy and often items included are seasonal. Available along the West Coast and in the Midwest, Northeast and West South Central region of the US, customers can place their orders weekly by a specific cutoff date to receive high-quality, fresh food at a reasonable price.
The Small Print: Imperfect Food charges a delivery fee of $4.99 to $8.99 depending on the customer’s location.