As the weather gets worse and life gets busy around the holidays, you should consider purchasing a delivery membership to help check off one more thing on your to-do list. We recommend skipping Amazon Prime and trying out Shipt and Instacart, two standbys in the on-demand category. Both services deliver essentials, groceries, and more to your home with the touch of an app, but are faster and more reliable than online shopping by mail, since they contact a local shopper in your area who picks up and delivers in your own neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for someone to pick up your groceries every week, need help hauling an 18-lb. dog food bag home, or need a last-minute ingredient for a recipe you’re in the middle of making, a grocery delivery membership is ultra-convenient to have in your arsenal. Here’s how the two stack up.
For a personal touch
Shipt offers same-day delivery service with dedicated shoppers who go to all the places you need to go, but really, really don’t want to: Costco, Target, CVS, the local grocery stores that don’t rhyme with Schmole Voods. Shipt Shoppers’ unique edge is that the role is designed to shop like you do—if you forget something in your original order or want to make a swap, you can do so, live, via text while they’re still in the store. A friend of mine has reached such a point of intimacy with her regular Shipt Shopper that the shopper grabbed a coveted container of Clorox wipes when she spotted them, knowing my friend’s COVID-conscious tendencies and shopping habits. (“Sally and I are basically family,” she told me.) What’s more, with partners like Target and Office Max on their platform, Shipt can also deliver you items beyond groceries: office supplies, clothing, homewares, skincare, and even electronics and board games.
You can try a single delivery Shipt Pass ($10) or buy a $99/year or $49/six-month membership that includes free delivery for any order over $35. (Smaller orders can be delivered for $7.) Tips are encouraged—and go 100% to the Shopper—and in-store versus on-app prices may slightly vary to “help cover the costs of picking, packing, and processing.”
For a set-and-forget order
Instacart offers both delivery and pickup from a range of retailers—including most major grocery stores, but also specialty shops like Lindt and Sephora. Your location will bring up a list of stores available to you (for me, in Boston, I get goodies such as H Mart, Eataly, and Aldi) and brings up your chosen retailer’s latest sales (including Instacart exclusive specials that could earn you free delivery), while you peruse by category to fill up your cart. I find myself leaning on Instacart for large, heavy ticket items that would be a pain to lug to my apartment—bags of ice, kitty litter, crates of sparkling water, laundry detergent, etc.—but also pantry ingredients for new recipes I’m trying out.
You can also pre-choose your replacements when you order by clicking Preferences on each item in your cart. Your shopper may ping you should something be out of stock, but pre-selecting allows you to step away from the app with confidence while they do their haul. Like Shipt, in-store vs. Instacart pricing varies based on the store’s policy. No-contact delivery is free with Instacart Express ($99 year, $9.99/mo) for orders more than $35. Same-day delivery for non-members starts at $3.99. And naturally, tips are always appreciated.
Instacart and Shipt are available via app or web browser—I’ve used both and prefer the app. But to each their own!
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