Grocery Delivery Services Are Exploding, and Here’s Why You Might Want to Give Them a Try

by Jessica Sommerfield · 5 comments

online shopping
Just this month, retail chain Target announced that it is joining Amazon, Costco, Whole Foods, Petco, and a host of other private companies in what is becoming an increasingly popular and profitable market: grocery delivery service. They’re not the only ones. Wal-Mart also indicated its plans to explore grocery delivery in a a few markets, and jack-of-all-trades Google is launching its own version of rival Amazon’s “Fresh” called “Google Express” in test markets later this year.

Target plans to partner with start-up success InstaCart, an online service that currently works with 18 chain stores. Along with similar companies like Peapod and Shipt, InstaCart partners with grocery stores to delivery goods right to your door. Although this type of service has been available for years in wealthier demographics, it’s now becoming increasingly demanded by the middle class, and retailers are responding.

Here’s how it works. Customers such as yourself get on either the delivery service or affiliated grocery store’s website, select the items you want, place your order, and receive home delivery in 1-2 hours based on our selection. It’s as simple as that.

Costs: Although prices vary between service providers, delivery costs range from $5 to $10. With InstaCart, the first delivery is free, and subsequent deliveries cost $3.99 for a 2-hour delivery window, and $5.99 for a guaranteed 1-hour window, with orders of $35 and over. Basically, the more you order, the less you spend on the delivery charge, similar to other online retail formats.

Advantages: Since you might be skeptical of the benefits (after all, that’s another $5-$10 you could be spending on actual groceries you go to the store and select yourself), here are a few to consider.

  • You’ll save time. In an increasingly busy lifestyle, time is money. It’s not uncommon to spend at least an hour in the grocery store, so selecting your purchases in a few minutes, and waiting only an hour for them to be delivered while you’re free to do other things can be priceless.
  • You’ll spend less on fuel. Depending on how far you live from the nearest grocery store, the trip to and from adds not only time to the weekly routine, but costs fuel. This is especially true in the city, where you have to deal with stop and go traffic.
  • You’ll spend less on impulse purchases. Since you won’t be standing in checkout lines full of junk food and other convenient temptations, you’ll be saving at least the amount you’re paying for delivery, if not more. Online grocery ordering, in general, will help you stick to your list and budget your food expenses more precisely.
  • It accommodates the elderly and disabled. This is a truly noteworthy advantage, since many seniors don’t drive and have to wait for public transportation (which makes it difficult to carry groceries). Those who have previously had to rely on others to shop for and delivery their groceries can experience a bit more independence in this aspect of daily life.

Potential Downsides

There really aren’t many, unless you’re a work-from-home like me and don’t want to be deprived of the opportunity to get out of the house, or you like to verify the quality of your fruits and vegetables. Of course, you can always compromise and purchase your produce at a local farmer’s market (which gets you out of the house, and supports the local economy), and the rest of your dry groceries online for the convenience. Basically, there’s no reason not to at least consider how this service could save you time and money, especially since many will delivery your first order for free.

Do you think a grocery delivery service might be a good option for your household? Have you ever tried it before?

Editor's Note: Did you know about the service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.

Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Brenda says:

    I tried using Peapod for years! Even though I am only 15 minutes from the town I shop in (a sizable town), they stated I was not in their delivery area. I have seen the benefits and would LOVE to participate!

  • Jessica Sommerfield says:

    Coupons for free shipping sounds like another great benefit! I’m glad to hear someone’s had a positive experience with them. I live really close to several grocery stores, enjoy getting out, and love to shop at the farmer’s market, so it doesn’t quite meet my needs right now, but I’m definitely keeping it in mind!

  • kirsten says:

    I use Peapod all the time and almost never pay for shipping. Once you start using them they send you coupons for free shipping or $5-10 off your order (shipping is $6.95 for an order over $100.) I really like being able to order while looking through my cabinets and fridge to see what is out. I also like that they save every order so you can easily reorder those items again.

  • Money Beagle says:

    I can think of a couple of issues. As you mentioned, we do like to look at our produce as we buy a lot of fresh food, and don’t just pick the item at the top of the pile, which I’m sure is what you’d get with a delivery service. Also, many times our stores have items on special that aren’t even in the weekly ad, and we’ll stock up now and then on staples. This opportunity would be lost. And, finally, we use coupons and it seems that it might be difficult or even not possible to use them with a delivery service.

    Still, for those who can work around those things in the trade-off of convenience, it’s hard to argue with the benefits.

    • Jessica Sommerfield says:

      The point about in-store only specials is a good one. I like to shop these deals, as well. I guess this remains one of the things retailers can use to draw customers into their stores, and catch them with those impulse buys while they’re there. 😉

      However, I wonder if you can still use coupons (electronic ones, at least, which is what I mostly use, anyway) attached to your store ‘advantage’ card? Essentially, you’re ordering from the retailer, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t allow you to use your member card with loaded coupons. It would be something to check into, I suppose.

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