Our Whole Foods just started doing delivery with Instacart (I think that link includes a $10 coupon, if you haven’t tried it!) I picked up a flyer in our store offering a $20 discount and free delivery on my first order, so I figured I’d give it a try to score $20 of free groceries! I tried it the night we came home from the beach. If you haven’t heard of it, you order groceries online with Whole Foods and then use the Instacart service to have a shopper shop for you and deliver the groceries to your house. For anyone who 1) hates grocery shopping, or 2) is really busy, this service would be life changing.
Overall I really liked it, but I don’t think I have a need to justify the cost of doing it regularly.
Things I Liked:
I could make my shopping list online.
I had fun and felt organized, but it was also a little frustrating as I tried to make sure I was getting the correct products that we always get. Once you do it a few times, though, this may be one of the best parts! Especially because you can save your staples and load the list with the click of a button.
There were text notifications.
I received a text when my shopper began, as she replaced a few things that were sold out or otherwise unavailable (mostly organic –> regular).
I was able to text my shopper!
She swapped our bread out, and I knew she probably just missed it on the bottom shelf! I texted her and she found it right away. That was my favorite part!
It was convenient.
Obviously, the convenience of not spending an hour at the store or spending any gas money going there was great.
There was no impulse-buying.
Our grocery bill was about 20% lower than usual because there were no impulse buys!
Things I Disliked:
There was some confusion over the service charge verses the tip.
There was a surprise 10% service charge (which I should have figured because Instacart also needs to make money), but it canceled out half of my coupon code. I also panicked when our shopper was on the way and I realized I needed to tip her. (Did I think a robot was delivering them, or I am too used to the FedEx guy bringing a Blue Apron box?) I still don’t really know if the service charge was the tip or not. Instacart asked for a tip digitally after the order was delivered (even though I paid in cash). Google searches suggested that the service charge goes to Instacart’s profits and you can actually delete it and then just tip extra. I care most about making sure my shopper is cared for, so I want to be sure I am tipping properly and that part was all pretty confusing!
The groceries didn’t come refrigerated.
Luckily I was home when they arrived (and this saved on packaging, so that’s sorta good), but I guess you can’t use this service like you would Blue Apron and let it sit on your doorstep for a few hours.
Our order was an hour late.
This was only a concern because I initially planned to make dinner from the groceries and we were all really hungry. So, I went to plan B and made spaghetti instead. We were at home, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but while I was waiting, I pictured someone expecting this delivery at work. They would have had to stick around an extra hour! Just something to mention.
Here’s the pantry meal I made that turned out to be really good: whole wheat pasta, jarred Parmesan sauce from Whole Foods, canned artichokes, capers, and parmesan cheese.
I will probably use the service again if I’ve had a really busy or coming-home-from-out-of-town kind of week where it would be worth 10% + delivery. Other grocery stores like Harris Teeter and Kroger have shopping services that are much more affordable on the service charges ($5 flat fee, I think). Although, you do have to go pick them up and I think you have to order 24 hours in advance. That seems like the best of both worlds, especially for parents with small kids!
Do you like to grocery shop and have you ever used a service like this?
This post wasn’t sponsored in any way – I’m just sharing my experience!
The Hy-Vee in my area does free delivery with orders over $100. I know some busy families that love it.
Dawn Rambles says
I really like the idea of being able to text your shopper. We don’t have a whole foods around here but I’m sure they will add it to Wegmans one of these days.
My local Wegmans uses Instacart now!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says
I love grocery shopping! I think if I didn’t live in a city where everything’s within a minute’s reach, I’d consider delivery… but I like looking at the produce I’m getting in person, haha.
(I do wish there was Whole Foods in Hong Kong though, sigh)
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Our local store started doing free grocery pick up and it is literally a God-send. I have a toddler and an infant and although I love grocery shopping, it took up one whole weekend day once you accounted for nap schedules. Being able to order online and pick it up at my convenience has been such a lifesaver for our family. I was worried about someone else picking out our produce, but they have been great every time!! I can’t say enough good things about the service for busy parents that just can’t stand the idea of hauling young kids through the grocery store. LOVE IT!!
You can change the service fee to “waive” while checking out.
Carrie this fit chick says
I used to use instacart when I was in school. It was a great service, but it made me realize how much I enjoy being at the store to find fun new products and for substitutions!
Linda @ the Fitty says
Hi, this service sounds ideal! Unfortunately don’t think it’s come to Canada yet. And I also would love to see customized orders for specific cuts of meat, that I’m sure that the only service wouldn’t be able to cater to you yet. Keyword – – yet!
I am in western Canada and the local chain has an app that you can order groceries and either have them delivered (there is a fee with this I believe) or free in store pick-up. I use it all the time. There is no texting with the shopper so it can be a bit of a surprise when you pick it up but it has worked great for me.
Like Sue mentioned, we have Hy-Vee in Iowa that provides this service. If your bill is over $100 you can either pick it up at the store free of charge (pull up and call them) or they’ll deliver to your house. If it’s under $100 it’s a service fee of $3.95 I think… I have used this a hand full of times, but my order has never come out correctly. I’ve either received food I didn’t ask for and had no idea if I was charged, food missing from my order (either out of stock or didn’t find it) with no note so again… was I charged?, bad produce needing to be used immediately or expired dairy. I do have friends though who live in bigger cities and use the service and have wonderful results. I do think it’s a genius idea though!
Currently I am pregnant with #2 so shopping with 1 toddler is easy — we use the time together to talk about what we’re buying, what it’s for, counting produce, learning to wait out turn in line, etc. I’ve already thought about my near future and how I’ll need to try it again 🙂
I use the Kroger service every single week. I update my grocery list throughout the week which is so helpful because I’ll realize I’m out of Ziploc bags on Tuesday and won’t remember them when I go to the store on Friday. Now I’m able to put whatever it is I think about in the cart immediately! I have a two year old who hates being in a shopping cart now so there’s that plus side to. It’s freed up so much time for me and it’s totally worth the $4.50 it costs. (Another big plus – the produce the shoppers pick out have been perfect every single time!)
Maybe I should try Kroger next!
I think Kroger is now a 4 hour notice. It did start out as 24 hour.
Andrea @ French Pressed Kitchen says
I’m in the same boat! I thought the extra charges were mehhh. And when I picked out fresh produce (e.g., loose spinach) I got the wrong thing once and it wasn’t the best quality (you can’t count on someone to pick the best ones like you would!). It has been *great* a couple times when I used with a discount code on the way back from a trip – I just set the delivery time to within an hour of when I get back and I feel so much more productive post-trip!
Home from a trip is the ideal time! (Ps haaaaay!)
Sheldon Cooper says
Fun fact about Instacart – They are using machine learning to continuously capture data about the stores their shoppers visit. Essentially, when their employees walk into a grocery store to pick up the groceries for customers their routes are mapped and the service “learns” the most efficient route through the store so that their employees are grabbing the right items in the best order to save time in the store and with deliveries (although yours was late, ha!). Also it’s available at Wegmans in the DC-area!
I have done the Harris Teeter pickup several times for cases like you mention…out of town/busy weekends/etc. It’s a $4.95 fee, but there is a discounted rate if you purchase a monthly or annual pass. You do have to drive by the store, but you ring a bell and they bring everything right to your car and load it up, and you only have to get out if you’ve purchased alcohol. Also, no tip is expected or accepted. I think my local store only requires 4 hours advanced purchase, but it’s also dependent on how many other orders they have already taken on for the day. I don’t mind going to the store, and I always inevitably forget something when I do the online order, but it’s helpful for busy weeks!
I think if/when I have another baby I will use these more! Thomas loves grocery shopping though… 🙂
Can you text your shopper and have her saaaaay, wander the hot food section with the good intentions of making a healthy salad but then top it with mac n cheese and random scoops of all the fried and/or saucy things?? And don’t forget to swing by the bakery and grab a couple of those cake balls. ‘Cuz that would be a realistic shopping experience for me. LOL
I realize it isn’t available in many places, but we are trying out Amazon Fresh via the free three months promoted on Prime Day in July. I’d give it an 8/10. Only once has an order arrived late. You can choose to be home or have it dropped off in cold-friendly totes. Time windows range from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. They’ll pick up the empty totes on your next delivery. Produce selection has been good. Plenty of local options, organic selections and with the WF merger access to many 365 products. $10 delivery fee, unless you spend over $40. Lots of beauty and household products as well. Besides the occasional broken egg, it has been great. It is $14.99/month I think. Still deciding if we’ll keep doing it when our free subscription runs out.
Sounds awesome! I don’t think this is in Cville yet, but hopefully in the future
LOVE amazon fresh delivery! it saves me. Everything about it works for me and my lifestyle. Case in point, I went to whole foods and left $100 poorer for a week’s worth of groceries for one. usually I am able to get away with about $75 for a week via the delivery app 4x a month.
I second (third?) the Amazon Fresh thing. I kind of hate to support the HUGE giant of Amazon and not my smaller “local giant” of Ralph’s (Kroger), but it has been great after having my 4th baby. You can’t buy generic (which I always do at Ralph’s, which saves a lot of $$) but the convenience is AMAZING. Delivery on holidays, weekends, whenever. You can shop the afternoon before (on your app or computer) and have delivery before 7 am the next day. You can have them leave it on your doorstep if you want, or choose to receive the delivery yourself. Refrigeration is excellent and they take back all their packaging on the next delivery. I have had numerous broken eggs and some missing items and weird produce, but their customer service always quickly responds with a refund and usually a decent credit to be used towards the next order. It’s not quite like picking out the groceries yourself, and it’s a bit more expensive, but if you already have Prime there is NO delivery fee for orders over I think $40, and no tipping necessary. There may be a $15 service charge but for some reason I’ve only been charged this once in the past 4 months. Maybe you get the first 3 months free. I recommend it regardless, especially if you are working long hours and value your time enough to spend $15/month on convenience, or if you’ve just had a baby, or other similar situations.
Thanks for sharing the details!
I really want to start using this service. I’ll probably have groceries delivered from a Wegmans. I can tell you this, with a 1.5 hour each way commute, working full time and 16 month old twins, this will DEFINITELY come in handy! Especially when we last minute run out of milk or realize we’re low on foods the babies actually will eat ha! I’m going to try it!!
You have your hands full!!
I’ve used instacart a handful of times. I always deleted the service charge and only tipped. However, one thing I don’t love is the lack of transparency on the up charges per item. My shopper left the original receipt in the bag for one of my orders and I was shocked by how much the upcharge per item was, which apparently varies by location and store and they don’t always post the upcharge fee. It was about $30 all together on my order (I paid about $100 and the shopper paid about $70), thats on top of a delivery fee, and/or service fee. After that I switched over to Amazon Fresh delivery and its much more affordable/reasonable. I’ve been pretty happy overall with their meat and produce too.
Really!?!? I figured the prices were the same! I will have to look next time.
Yep – I deleted the service fee, but I still noticed they were charging more per item on almost every item. I thought this was shady since it’s not some thing they obviously disclose up front.
Kirsten @ little bites of my life says
We live in Whistler, BC and order from a service called Spud. They deliver twice weekly from Vancouver (which is about a two hour drive from us). Spud do not charge a delivery fee and there are no add-on fees either. In my profile I am able to select “no substitutes” if I prefer. Spud is a organic grocery store and are not any more expensive then the grocery stores around us. I like the convenience of being able to shop with them and being able to get exactly what I want as a lot of the times the grocery stores near us can be a bit hit & miss! Also, everything is packed with chill packs so if it sits on the door step for a few hours nothing goes bad. And…everything gets returned to them the next week and recycled. Yay!!!!
You will probably find over time that the service you used se extra add-on charges – fingers crossed!!!
I am definitely one of those people who actually enjoys grocery shopping, at least as long as it’s not during the PRIME hours when the place is packed. I enjoy picking out my own produce and slowly wandering down the aisles, but I also totally understand and see where it could be super beneficial and helpful!
Kelli @ Hungry Hobby says
I tried instacart and had a terrible experience, they said like half my order (it was from Costco) wasn’t there. I went the next day and found everything I needed. I really liked the convenience for when I got home after a big trip but it ended up being more inconvenient then convenient.
My kids are 6,3,and 18 months and grocery shopping with them is terrible! Even when I just have the younger 2 it is very difficult and I often miss things and hurry because they’re not behaving. When I just had 1 to bring along it was fun but not these days! I use HyVee (midwest) delivery service. Orders over $100 are free delivery or pick up. I tip our driver $5 and it is well worth it! I have had orders that have arrived with a missing item which was frustrating but it has improved quite a bit since I first started using it. I ask them to substitute if anything is unavailable. You give up some control but at this point I’m ok with that. I would not have substituted fat free Greek yogurt when the full fat was out of stock but I can live with fat free yogurt for a week!
I used to use google express. It was awesome when it was first launched. I could order all of my non perishable items from costco and have it delivered. Unfortunately about 4 months ago they started up-charging all the items and its just not worth it anymore. For example a case of toilet paper at costco is around $15 and now thru google its close to $20. I really miss the convenience of having all my bulk stuff delivered but I can’t justify the big increase in prices. I looked into instacart too and saw they up-charged their items too.
I used a similar service (Clicklist) at our local Fred Meyer when I was sick but needed to restock our fridge to feed our family. Although I don’t think I’ll use it on a regular basis, I thought it was great. I was so thankful I could get some fresh veggies and yogurt back into my fridge without having to walk around a store with a head cold, trying to keep three kids in line!
Lori Kessler says
I use Kroger’s Clicklist often, where you shop online, but you pick up the groceries (they load them in your car for you). I think you get your first 4-5 free, and then it’s $4.95 per order after that, but it’s the best $5 spent to save an hour plus of my time.
The good, their database keeps track of what you ordered (or bought in the store) recently so you can easily add to your cart.
The bad, I find their key word search lacking, If (for whatever reason), and item I buy often is not in the “recently purchased list”, I struggle sometimes to find it under a key word search, for example, when I attempt to search for lean hamburger patties (something I buy there often) they do not come up in the search…and they are Kroger brand! But, I try to always fill out the survey’s they send me after each order and I always list that as “room for improvement”.
Either way, its still worth using, and they will substitute a similar item if them item you ordered is not available (unless you choose “no substitution that that particular item”, I’ve only had one blip there, I received Almond creamer instead of Almond milk, so they seem to be pretty accurate.
My experience with Instacart has been amazing. The first time I ordered it was at my house in 45 minutes! There is no way I could load 3 kids, shop, get home and bring in the groceries in 45 mins. I have been told to tip in cash and also thought that was a little confusing. It is not something I use all the time, but totally worth it when short on time and it is going to add stress. I also had friends from out of town order groceries to be delivered once I had the 3rd baby which I found to be very helpful.
San Antonio has SHIPT and I loved it (we recently moved to Nebraska). If something was incorrect about the order, you could hit a couple of buttons to send an email to the company and they would reimburse you for the error! Fantastic.
Alicia Wise says
A coupon or gift card for this would be a great gift for a new mom. I will definitely use a service like this if we have another baby – I had a c-section and it made getting around for the first few weeks alone basically impossible. Normally I like shopping, but a service like this can be good in a pinch!