Grocery delivery apps are seeing record downloads—here’s what you need to know


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Photo: Getty Images / lechatnoir

Getting your groceries delivered had always seemed to me like something done exclusively by very bougie (or very busy) people. But now, with the majority of the country hunkering down and practicing social distancing, there’s never been a better time to get your groceries delivered. The nation agrees—grocery delivery apps are seeing a surge in downloads.

Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt, have seen 218 percent, 160 percent, 124 percent increases respectively in average daily downloads as compared to February, according to research from Apptopia. And grocers across the country are scrambling to hire workers to fill positions for e-commerce, cleaning, stocking, delivery, and personal shopping.

Stores like Walmart and e-commerce sites like Fresh Direct and Amazon Fresh deliver their own supply of goods. While services like Shipt and Instacart deliver from grocery stores in your area, such as Costco, Wegmans, and Kroger (but, sadly, not Trader Joes).

If you’ve never ordered groceries online before, it’s a pretty simple process. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

A simple guide to grocery delivery apps

Do grocery delivery apps serve my area?

Instacart seems to have the widest reach among the grocery delivery apps, serving thousands of cities in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Shipt serves 48 states, while Walmart Grocery serves 46.

Can I order online or do I have to use an app?

You can order online. Grocery delivery apps are great for when you’re on the go, but if, like most of us, you’re stuck at home and want to use a bigger screen, you can order from your computer.

What stores can I shop?

The coolest things about Instacart and Shipt is that they deliver from the stores around you. For example, I’m currently in Atlanta, and I can get items from Costco, CVS, Kroger, Target, and Publix delivered through both Instacart and Shipt. However, Shipt also delivers from Office Depot and Sur la table, while Instacart also delivers from Petco, HMart, and BJ’s.

Do I have access to the whole store or just certain items?

When you’re using the apps to buy from a store near you, you’re sending a shopper into the store with your list, so they have access to the whole store. If there’s something you want but don’t see, most services have a special request feature where you can type in an item to add to the list. However, with grocery stores experiencing record shortages, keep in mind that your shopper only has access to what is in store. More items than usual may be unavailable.

Does it cost more to have groceries delivered via app?

To use Shipt you pay for a membership. It’s either $14 a month or $99 for the year. The upside to this is you get unlimited free delivery on orders over $35. For Instacart and Walmart Grocery, the delivery fee is dependent on your distance from the store. Some stores add a slight markup to cover the cost of the service. With an Amazon Prime membership, you can get Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivered for free, as long as your order is at or above the local free-delivery price threshold.

Can you choose when your order arrives?

Yes, you can schedule your order ahead of time and pick from available delivery time slots at checkout.

Should I tip the person who delivers my order?

Yes, absolutely. Yes! Especially now with everything going on with COVID-19, be sure to give your delivery person a substantial tip.

An RD says everyone should stock up on these affordable healthy foods, and this cheap, shelf-stable food that will help keep constipation at bay.

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