Ordering your groceries online is a great way to avoid the crowds at grocery stores. It’s also a great way to avoid impulse purchases. Grocery pickup services started increasing in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means you have more choices now than ever.
In this article, I’ll explain how to order groceries online and highlight six of the best places to order them.
This article was updated in August 2023 and I review it every 12 months.
6 Things To Know About Grocery Pickup
When it comes to ordering groceries online, you’ll typically have two options: delivery or pickup. For pickup, you may be able to drive up and have an associate bring your order out or run inside and get your completed order with an in-store pickup option. Either way, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you order groceries online:
- You can browse available deals, search for specific items or choose from frequently ordered items if you have a store membership card or online account.
- Expect to be asked to submit payment information when you place your order. That means you won’t need to bring cash or a card to the store with you. If items are unavailable or have to be weighed, the actual amount charged will be adjusted.
- If something that you order is out of stock, you may receive a substitution. This policy varies from store to store. Typically, you can select whether or not you agree to substitutions.
- Be sure to check your order when you pick it up. Your personal shopper should walk you through any substitutions or out-of-stock selections during the shopping process, but it never hurts to double-check so you can quickly return or pick up anything that was overlooked.
- The pickup process is different at each store. Know what the process is for picking up your groceries before heading out to get your order, and be sure to show up within the time slot that you chose online.
- You may have to schedule your delivery further out during times of high demand. You can usually choose a time slot and pick up your groceries within 48 hours of placing your order. But as more people place orders, fewer upcoming time slots will be available.
The Best Online Grocery Pickup Services
Whether you’re brand loyal or deal loyal, ordering your groceries online can be a great way to save time and prevent impulse buys. Below, we’ve highlighted six of the best online grocery pickup services (listed in no particular order):
Target is a great place to order your groceries online to be picked up at the store. You can browse available selections by store and build your online shopping cart on Target’s website or on the Target app.
Target offers pickup and drive-up options in addition to grocery delivery. If you choose the drive-up service, make sure to park in one of the designated spots in front of the store for your order. They’re marked with a tall red post. When your order is ready, you’ll receive an email and a notification from the Target app. If you choose order pickup, you can park anywhere and head to the guest services counter to get your order.
There’s no minimum purchase amount nor additional fees, which makes Target a great option for grocery pickup. Check out Target’s FAQ page for more information.
Ordering your groceries from Kroger is another great way to avoid crowds and impulse buys in the store. Kroger charges a service fee starting at $4.95 when you order groceries online, but the fee is waived if you make a minimum purchase of $35. (There’s no minimum purchase required to place an online pickup order.)
You can easily place your order on Kroger’s website and don’t forget to sign in if you carry a Kroger Plus Card for the most savings. Once you’re finished shopping, you can indicate whether or not you’d like to allow substitutions for any out-of-stock items. Same-day pickup orders can’t be modified, but you can add, edit or remove items from your online shopping cart up until midnight of the day before your scheduled pickup.
Once you’ve placed your order, get to the store during the time slot you selected and follow the signs to park in one of the indicated spaces. To let an associate know you’ve arrived, you can call the number on the sign at the parking space or turn on location services in the app. It will send an instant notification when you’re near the store.
For more information or to find answers to more specific questions, check out Kroger’s FAQ page online.
Walmart grocery pickup is another service to consider. I’ve always had a great experience ordering groceries online using Walmart’s website, which is really good about allowing substitutions and correcting mistakes.
Pickup is free with a $35 online grocery order, but you can pay a service fee to get your order faster. If your order is under $35, you’ll likely be charged a “below minimum order” fee that starts at $6.99 but may vary based on location. Walmart also ensures that there are no price markups on items, which means you’ll pay the same price if you order your groceries online as you would if you shopped for them in the store.
If you’re using the website to place your order, you’ll see a running list of items in your cart on the right side of the screen. This makes it easy to stay under budget and keep track of what you’re purchasing. Once you’ve built your list, you can reserve a time slot for your delivery on the same day or for sometime later in the week.
You can make changes to your order up until the cutoff time you’re given when you place the order. For products that you aren’t brand-loyal to, you may consider allowing substitutions. However, if any items are substituted, you’ll be charged the cost of the product you receive. To avoid any surprise charges for more expensive products, you can also choose not to allow substitutions.
When you arrive at the store, follow the orange “Pickup” signs to a designated parking area and follow the directions on the sign to alert the store that you’re ready for your order. For more ways to save, check out these 7 things to know before ordering with Walmart’s free grocery pickup service.
If you’re an Aldi shopper, you may be able to order grocery pickup from your nearest store. While it’s currently only available at select locations, curbside pickup from Aldi is another great way to order your groceries online.
Aldi has partnered with Instacart to provide this service. If you’re a new Instacart customer, you may be able to pick up your groceries for free on your first few orders of at least $35. After that, you can expect to see a small pickup fee of around $5 to be applied to your orders with a minimum purchase requirement of $10.
To get started, visit shop.aldi.us or download the Instacart app and fill your online shopping cart. Select the pickup location and time frame that you’d like to receive your order before placing it. Once you’ve arrived at the store, find a blue curbside space and follow the instructions on the sign to alert an Instacart employee that you’ve arrived. They’ll bring the groceries out to your car.
For more information about curbside pickup at Aldi or the company’s partnership with Instacart, be sure to check out the FAQ page.
Like Aldi, Publix has also partnered with Instacart to provide curbside grocery pickup. There are no service or pick-up fees. However, The minimum order for grocery pickup is $10. Note that some Publix stores mark up the prices on items that are picked up or delivered.
You can place your online order at publix.com/curbside or through the Instacart app. Once you’ve added your groceries to your online shopping cart, you can choose your time slot and whether or not you want to allow substitutions. When you arrive at the store, park in a designated Publix Curbside parking space.
In addition to curbside pickup, you can also choose a variety of groceries to pick up in-store for no additional charge. Eligible in-store pickup items include subs, meat & cheese, holiday meals, platters & boxes, cakes & desserts, meals and gifts.
For more information about Publix curbside grocery pickup or the store’s partnership with Instacart, check out the company’s FAQ page.
6. Whole Foods
Whole Foods also offers grocery pickup at select stores across the country. The service is available only to Amazon Prime members. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime if you don’t already have an account.
Grocery pickup is free for orders over $35 when placed at least an hour in advance. If you want to pick up your order within 30 minutes or the total is under $35, you can expect to see an additional pickup fee added.
To order grocery pickup from your nearest Whole Foods, begin by using the Amazon app or visit Amazon’s website. Choose “Pickup” in the top left corner of the page and fill your online shopping cart with Whole Foods products available near you. When you’re ready to check out, you’ll be asked to select a pickup time from the available options.
No matter where you decide to order your groceries, shopping online is a great way to save.
You can stop yourself from making impulsive in-store purchases, you’ll find digital coupons and sales available online and save time at the store. Ordering your groceries online is also a great way to easily track your spending as you shop and instantly compare prices with other local grocery stores.
Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific grocery pickup process at the store that you plan on ordering from so that you know what to expect. Lastly, don’t forget to check your substitution preferences and see if there are any additional fees or price markups before submitting your order.
Do you have a grocery pickup service that you love? Let us know in our Clark.com Community!