Grocery Delivery Showdown
Which grocery delivery service do you want to learn more about?
In the world of online groceries, new services and perks are being added daily. One of my favorite advancements is local grocery delivery. While some stores offer their own delivery, other services like Shipt and Instacart have really started to dominate the industry.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area offering both services it can be tough to decide which is right for you. So let’s take a in depth look at the battle of Shipt vs. Instacart.
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Let’s face it, online grocery shopping can be a bit pricier than shopping in store. It’s a luxury service and that comes with a price tag. It is also why most people hesitate to try grocery delivery services and is always a leading factor in deciding which service is right for you.
The price comparison between Shipt and Instacart has a few moving parts and they are not always easy to compare.
Instacart does not require a membership but it does offer one for $99/year.
Shipt requires a membership for ordering (you can browse for free). The membership is $99/year or $14/month. Plus, they often run specials where you can grab an annual membership for just $49/year.
Shipt makes this part SUPER easy with free delivery for orders over $35 and a flat $7 for orders under $35. The only real variable is that some stores add a $7 delivery fee for orders with alcohol. Seriously that's it.
Instacart isn’t quite as straightforward with their extra fees.
ALL orders include a service fee . In late 2018, Instacart dropped the service fee for Express members but still include a 5% service fee on all other orders (7.5% in New York).
There is also an additional service fee for alcohol, scaling from $2-$10 based on the total of the order.
If you are ordering with the membership there is no delivery charge and the minimum order is $35, similar to Shipt except you can't have an order totaling less than $35 with the Instacart Express Membership.
However, if you are ordering without a membership there is a delivery fee, mine was $5.99 but they recently lowered the basic delivery fee to $3.99. What’s more is the possible addition of a “busy fee” depending on the time and day your schedule your delivery. I was going to be charged $9.99 to have my groceries delivered on a Saturday morning.
Of course, after factoring in the membership fees, delivery fees, service fees, and tipping you also need to be aware of the cost of the actual items you are ordering.
In general, I’ve found both Shipt and Instacart to be slightly more expensive than purchasing the groceries in the store (they have to make money somehow). Although each individual item, from each delivery service, is priced differently I found the total costs to come out nearly identical. (That is strictly comparing the item costs side by side and does not include the additional fees mentioned above.)
The total for the Shipt and Instacart orders are within 1¢ of each other. Both Shipt and Instcart totals are about $10 more than the actual store order. NOTE: These totals do not include service fees or delivery fees.
You can see the entire cost breakdown for each service in my Shipt Review and Instacart Review.
This is one area where there are some pretty significant differences. Other than local grocery stores each service has their own unique store offerings.
In general, Instacart offers delivery from a wider selection of stores than Shipt. Of course, the store selection differs vastly based on location so your best bet is to enter your zip code to see which stores are available in your area.
Shipt predominantly offers delivery for groceries and has built relationships with many local grocery chains throughout the country. The big bonus for Shipt is that after being acquired by Target late 2017, it is the only service that can deliver from Target.
Instacart seems to have a more broad selection of stores ranging from local grocery chains to stores like Sur la Table. The one place Instacart really stands out is in their relationship with membership stores like Sam’s Club and Costco. It is a serious perk to be able to order delivery from these stores without needing to have your own membership.
Customer service is a big selling point for me, a company that goes above and beyond for their customers will always earn my loyalty and this is where Shipt really shines.
If you want to contact Instacart about a question or concern you can do so by email or phone. I have sent a few emails regarding one of my orders and long story short...Instacart responded to my customer service requests with form letter responses and left me feeling unimpressed.
Shipt on the other hand has some of the most amazing customer service I’ve received from any company in the past few years. You can also contact Shipt’s customer service through a support form on their site, email, phone, and my personal favorite, chat.
I contacted their customer service through the chat feature a number of times and always received prompt, personal, and incredibly helpful support.
In general, with Instacart I felt like an unimportant number and they could care less if I continued to be a customer or not whereas Shipt went above and beyond to make sure I was happy and to retain my business.
This one is a little trickier to compare as every single delivery experience will be different. There are different shoppers every day in every location so to generalize seems a bit unfair. However, I also realize that this is one of the most important factors when choosing a delivery service.
In my experience, my shoppers from both Instacart and Shipt did their job and delivered everything I ordered, correctly and on time.
However, there seem to be some significant differences that will apply to all orders from both companies. That is the level and ease of communication with your shopper.
When I placed my order with Instacart I received a notification letting me know who my shopper was and that they had received my order. Then I received another notification letting me know there had been an adjustment to my order for a substitution. Before delivery I received one more notification letting me know the driver was on the way. It was sufficient but underwhelming.
Compare that to my experience with Shipt and you’ll understand why I was so underwhelmed. During my order from Shipt I received communication by text message directly from my shopper.
She sent one text to introduce herself and make herself available for any special requests. Then she sent another when one of my items was unavailable, including a picture of the possible alternatives so I could choose a replacement if I wanted to.
Before heading to the checkout she sent another message asking if there was anything else I might need (which of course there was…#mombrain). So she grabbed the last item and sent me a message to let me know when she expected to arrive. She even answered my random questions about alcohol delivery. It was a phenomenal experience! Again Shipt was light years ahead of Instacart with the service.
You could chalk that up to a lucky experience or an exceptional shopper but if you’ve spent any time reading through comments on Instacart or Shipt social media posts, you can see I’m not alone in my experience. I’ve also heard complaints that Instacart orders can be processed by two or even three different people whereas with Shipt you have one shopper who completes the order from start to finish.
When I was trying to think of a more subjective way to evaluate this particular topic it occurred to me that happier employees usually perform better.
In a comparison of company culture by Comparably, Shipt employees rated the overall culture 89 and Instacart employees rated the overall culture 53. That is a pretty significant difference and would explain why there might be more pervasive difference in personal shopper performance.
Instacart also got itself into quite a bit of trouble when it was discovered that tips weren't being paid to the shoppers as they should be. While they've taken steps to remedy this it is still a red flag when it comes to their corporate culture.
No matter which service you choose, for me, getting groceries delivered beats going to the store to buy them myself and for most families, trips to the store are a huge hassle. That said, grocery delivery can also be a good fit for people who don't have a car, live far from the store or fewer options for things like meal kits for singles.
But in the end, this one is really a no brainer for me. I'm team Shipt all the way.
As I've said, probably way too many times, great customer service always wins me over. While Shipt's fees are much easier to understand, I really made my decision based on the level of service from both the customer support and the personal shopper.
The great part about all this is that since Instacart doesn't require a membership, I can keep my membership with Shipt and use Instacart to fill in the gaps from places like Costco on an a la carte basis. Win-Win!
Which grocery delivery service do you want to learn more about?