UPDATE 10/5/2020:

TL;DR – 3rd party grocery delivery services cost 50% more than delivery directly from the supermarket.

I ordered directly from the supermarket (Vons, $100 total) and compared it to the same order from Shipt. The store had:

  • Same number of delivery slots.
  • Much bigger selection.
  • Fewer items sold out, even though the order was double my usual.
    • Assume supermarket employees store filled the order from the stock room, not the shelves.
    • Store doesn’t sell you items it knows are sold out or that it doesn’t carry at that location.
    • This means way fewer substitutions, and the couple I got were good.
  • Fewer items missing/forgotten.
    • Personal shoppers are rushing to maximize hourly rate and it shows.
  • Big savings. Even with a $10 delivery fee, I saved over $50 vs Shipt and got rewards points on my card. Food markup plus a 15% tip (not required, but expected) adds 50% to your total price.


In most cases, doesn’t make sense to use Shipt/Instacart even with the flat yearly fee.


I recently solicited opinions on the shopping service Shipt but didn’t get much in response, so I thought I’d try them out. I was running out a few essentials (coffee is an essential) and since I don’t have a trustworthy face mask, I figured I’d try Shipt. It didn’t hurt that I walk to the grocery store and it’s raining.

Basic facts:

  • $99/year or $14/month
  • adds about 15% to most grocery store prices
  • a minimum order size of $35 (or a surcharge)
  • multiple addresses allowed
    • nationwide
    • save Mom a trip
  • you shop through their app or web site (except Target)
  • doesn’t use your rewards card/account (except Petco and Target)
    • no points, gas discount, etc.
    • no digital coupons
    • no mix and match, “$5 for 5,” etc.
  • Target is special
    • integrated into site, including search and checkout
    • charges you a $6 delivery fee on top of Shipt, so considerably more than the 5% surcharge until you hit $120
    • does credit you for the purchase (rewards work)
  • Many big chains supported. Enter ZIP code to learn which, since someplace you consider close, Shipt considers too far. List includes:
    • Costco
    • CVS
    • HEB
    • Kroger
    • Meijer
    • Office Depot/OfficeMax
    • Petco
    • Publix
    • Ralphs
    • Sur la Table
    • Target
    • Vons/Pavilions
    • Winn Dixie

Here’s the result of my experience.


  • I am still safe and healthy and now have coffee.
  • Cheaper than store delivery, even if you just use it monthly.
  • Saved ~45 minutes on a one-bag trip.
  • If it’s not available, shopper will send you a photo of a substitution for your approval.
  • Items dropped right at my door.
  • Friendly shopper.
  • I have not heard of Shipt shoppers walking off the job in protest.


  • Time slots are currently all taken.
    • You can only choose for today or tomorrow.
    • No booking a week out.
    • No notification when a slot opens up.
    • Yes, you literally have to keep hitting refresh to see if a slot was added/freed.
  • Got a 7-8PM delivery window for the next day, shopping didn’t start until 8:30PM.
    • I opted for possible early delivery, which gave me a 8AM-8PM window. Consider that a pro, even though it didn’t happen.
  • Many items are missing from their website, but you know the store carries it. Some stores have a lot more missing than others.
    • I now see that Ralphs seems to have integrated their inventory system, but not Von/Pavilions. I made the mistake of choosing Pavilions. Test things out yourself.
  • If it’s missing, you can make a special request. However, when I got my bill they charged me list price plus an extra dollar, when I know it was on sale. So an extra $3.50 for two items.
    • Adding insult to injury, one of the two was the wrong variety.
  • Substitutions were sometimes way off.
    • She could think of no substitution for sesame seed sandwich rolls (really?), so they were just not included.
    • Suggested buying a bottle of olive oil 3x larger. Luckily I corrected.
    • I approved an 8 oz bag of mozzarella of a different brand. Then she bought a huge 32 oz. bag of a different type. Why not the one she suggested?
    • Conspiracy theory: they are trying to make me fat(ter).
  • Online help/FAQ practically nonexistent.
  • Chat agents take literally 3 hours to respond.
    • They admit they are taking a week to respond to support emails.

Let’s be clear: in the scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. You send a family member out to get your groceries, probably just as bad. Especially if you send them out at the end of a long day in the middle of the apocalypse. I gave her a good rating and a big tip. But yeah, when this madness is over I expect them to do a lot better.

Would I do this again? Over doing it myself? In the middle of a pandemic? Of course! I will just make sure I start earlier and get a morning slot.

If you think this is worth it for you, you’ll save $10 (and I’ll get $10 credit) if you use my sign up link:


Stay safe!