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Friday, June 2, 2017

Charleston has two new grocery delivery services. Here's how they compare

Starting today, Instacart joins Shipt in Charleston

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 2:56 PM

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"We know you're a busy person. Between adult kickball, your friend's benefit happy hour, Sunday brunch, strolling the Saturday farmers market, and required beach time, when are you going to go grocery shopping this week?"

That's essentially the pitch that grocery delivery startups that have rolled out across the nation over the past few years. When Shipt launched a few weeks back, Charleston got its first. Today, the biggest national player, Instacart, flipped the switch in the Holy City.

The proposition is pretty simple: The services partner with local stores and you browse and select the items you need using a web browser or mobile app. The companies hire local 'shoppers' who then go to the store, shop, buy, and deliver whatever you selected. Depending on the service, you'll pay a slightly-marked up price for each item as well as a recurring membership fee and maybe a per-order fee.

Joking aside, there are obviously times when we all need an extra person to run errands for us, whether we get caught up at work or just want to get to that happy hour. So let's take a look at Shipt and Instacart and see the differences.

(We'll check back in once we've tried both services. Hanna at the P&C wrote about her experience with Shipt when it started.)

Shipt
Membership fees: $14/month or $99/year
Membership required? Yes
Mobile app? Yes
Local stores: Publix and Whole Foods Market
Delivery fees: Free for orders $35+, $7 for orders under $35
Service fee/Tip: None
Delivery time: As soon as one hour or scheduled through the following evening (during business hours.)

Instacart
Membership fees: $99/year for Instacart Express
Membership Required? No
Mobile app? Yes
Local stores: Publix, Whole Foods Market, and PetCo
Delivery fees: $9.99 under $35, $5.99 over $35. Add $2 for fast delivery. (All deliveries over $35 free for Express members.)
Service fee/Tip: 10% by default, not required
Delivery time: One- and two-hour options or scheduled up to six days out (during business hours.)

We did a little shopping for some mostly-typical stuff from Whole Foods. Check out the lists below to see the price differences.

Some observations from the shopping experience:

You can't shop for local produce. So you'll have to find your own local peaches and strawberries, but you know they're worth it.
Product naming. Instacart generally had more specific information in product names, making it easier to know that's what you want.
Availability. Some things we found on one service weren't available on the other.
You're not there. Unless we have a butcher moonlighting as our internet grocery picker, we might end up with not-the-best top sirloin.
Fees. Instacart used to include a 10% tip in costs for its customers, but switched to a 'service fee' earlier this year, which lets that money to be given to other staff as well. The service fee is still included by default, but it is optional, and customers can also/instead choose to specify a tip for the person delivering the food.
No booze. No beer or wine was available for delivery. Sad!

TL;DR results:

Instacart
Grocery total: $81.79
Delivery fee: $5.99
10% service fee or tip: $8.38
Tax: $0.81
TOTAL: $96.97

Shipt
Grocery total: $79.06
Delivery fee: $14 (monthly fee, unlimited $35+ orders)
Service fee: $0
Tax: $7.11
TOTAL: $100.17

So Shipt comes out more expensive this time since it includes the $14 membership fee per month. But, if you got this order again in two weeks and prices stayed the same, it would come out to $86.17 for a two-order total of $186.34. Those same two Instacart orders would be $193.94.

(We're also not too sure why Instacart is not collecting the same taxes as Shipt; we've reached out to the company to ask why.)

Here's what we bought…

Just another random grocery trip to Whole Foods where we definitely forgot something. Don't email me.
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