The days of New Yorkers lording their countless delivery options over the rest of us are finally coming to an end. Grocery delivery services are popping up in major cities across the country, giving all of us the chance to answer the age old question, “How much cheese can I eat without leaving my apartment?” (The answer is usually, “I need to go lie down.”) Here’s a roundup of several of the major grocery delivery players:
Currently delivering to California, New York, and Seattle, and expanding every day in that creepy way that only Amazon, Google, and Apple have perfected, Amazon Fresh offers same day or early next day delivery on hundreds of thousands of grocery items, plus everything else Amazon sells. Just think of it as Big Brother, if Big Brother brought you organic raspberries.
Their prices have relatively little mark-up, and delivery is free on orders over $35, but the Amazon Fresh service itself costs $299 per year. While this includes an Amazon Prime membership, it’s still a hefty price tag. Also, it’s worth noting that Amazon Fresh often come with a fair amount of packing material. The drinkable, chilled water bottles used to keep items cold are a great idea, the occasional bins and styrofoam less so. But if your grocery list includes ingredients for your famous Dry Ice and Foam Cube Parfait, you’re in luck.
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Instacart is another major delivery service, currently operating in more than fifteen cities across the country. You can pick from several grocery stores in your area on their website, and their personal shoppers will take care of your grocery list. Orders over $35 cost $4 to deliver in approximately two hours, or $6 to deliver within an hour. It costs slightly more for orders under $35, and during periods of high demand Instacart adds a few dollars as “Busy Pricing.” You can also pay for Instacart Express for $100 per year and get free two hour/scheduled delivery for all orders over $35.
Instacart gets rave reviews for their personal shoppers, who are attentive, friendly, and responsive. For example, if an item on your list is unavailable, they’ll text you possible alternatives. On the other hand, their markup is considerable. A GeekWire comparison of Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and the Safeway chain’s own delivery service found that $50 to $55 worth of groceries from Amazon and Safeway cost $70 on Instacart.
Amazon and Instacart, however, aren’t the only game in town. Newcomers are cropping up left and right, such as Peapod and Deliveer, and those are just the real ones.
Peapod operates in Chicago, DC, Philadelphia, and most of New England. They require a $60 minimum order, and their delivery fee is generally between $7 and $10, depending on your order, plus an additional fuel surcharge, but there doesn’t seem to be any mark-up on the grocery items themselves.
Deliveer operates in Vancouver and parts of Los Angeles, and is expanding to Toronto, Chicago, and the rest of LA. They offer shopping from a wide variety of grocery stores, allow you to order from multiple stores without an extra fee, and guarantee in-store prices. They charge a service fee of approximately 5%, plus $7 for deliveries in two plus hours, or $11 for delivery in under two hours. But, even after reading their online pronunciation, I’m still not quite sure how to say their name.
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Finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate in flexibility, there’s always Postmates. Postmates couriers will pick up whatever you need from any grocery store, restaurant, or shop. Need a stapler, two dozen eggs, and a book titled Pranks To Get You Fired? Then they’re your guys. But Postmates also charges a $5 delivery fee plus 9% of your total, with occasional “Blitz Pricing,” so it can definitely add up. Also, while they claim that most deliveries take less than an hour, I’ve heard that the speed and accuracy of your order can vary depending on the quality of your courier.