Comparing On-Demand Grocery Delivery in Austin

by Nicole Vickey November 03, 2016

Comparing On-Demand Grocery Delivery in Austin

Does anyone really love grocery shopping?

I questioned "outsourcing" groceries for our family of picky eaters. I think my husband sent me an Instacart promo code just to punk some poor on-demand shopper.  

My outsourcing moment came when one kid was on crutches and one was down with a stomach bug, and there was very little food in the fridge. 

I was surprisingly delighted by the experience. I have since used extra busy weeks to try all of Austin's grocery delivery services. My candid thoughts: 

TL;DR

Winner: Instacart
Best mix of store variety, flexibility, site, and price

2nd: Shipt
Site could be better organized, best delivery, similar price to Instacart

3rd: Burpy
Great site, but most expensive, worst shopper/delivery experience

Store variety: Great

I can order up obscure organic tempeh from Wheatsville AND have gin delivered when the next crutches-and-vomit night comes around. 

Site: Great

Groceries are organized in familiar "aisles", with easy nutritional filters so I can see organic items only. It suggests stuff I've ordered in a "Buy It Again" section, front and center:

Cost: Good

Instacart charges $45.59 for 13 HEB items that I'd normally pay $33.23 if I shopped myself.

They have optional memberships ($14.99/mo) to save on delivery fees ($5.99), a delivery minimum of $10, an optional service charge (10%) and tip, and no markup if shopping from Whole Foods (great). 

Delivery: Inconsistent

Some shoppers brought me clearly moldy berries, one subbed pork hotdogs for the vegetarian ones I had ordered. Others offered substitutes via the app or a phone call, while others just skipped any substitutes and refunded me for the item. Customer service was great about refunds and returns on bad items.

 

Store variety: Limited

Shipt only offers two options, and no gin for mommy.

Site: Weird

Weird categories (I'd like to see aisles, rather than "Dinner Tonight" and "Tailgate Essentials"). Normal categories exist, but are buried, as is the Buy It Again option. No nutritional filters.

    Cost: Good (similar to Instacart)

    Shipt charges $45.04 for 13 HEB items that I'd normally pay $33.23 if I shopped myself.

    They require membership ($14/mo), tip request after delivery, and a grocery markup of about 14%.

    Delivery: Great

    • Simpler and better. They've been consistent in picking good produce, finding obscure items, and better communication.
    • Delivery is awkward. One of my shoppers had my stuff packed in her own reusable totes, so she had to walk in to unpack.

    Store variety: Great 

    They offer lots of choice, but no alcohol delivery.

      Site: Great

      The site is well organized. I found no "Buy It Again" option, but you can go into previous orders and add items to your cart.

      Cost: Expensive

      Burpy charges $56.26 (ouch) for 13 HEB items that I'd normally pay $33.23 if I shopped myself.

      They have no membership fees, but lots of random fees (shopper fee, trust fee, bag fee) that added $9.57 to my bill that aren't very clear.

      Delivery: Awful

      • Missing items. Bad communication. Shopper did not contact me for substitutes of several common items that he just didn't purchase (was there really no mozzarella cheese sticks?).  I texted mid-shopping to ask him to reach out for substitution ideas, and go no response.
      • Bad delivery. The delivery person did not knock or ring the doorbell. I got an email saying delivery was complete, which I assumed was a tech fluke. Twenty minutes later I looked out my front window and saw my groceries sitting on my front porch. Customer service was responsive and apologetic when I rated the shopper poorly.

      CONCLUSION

      Paying someone to grocery shop for me still feels a little 1%, but with limited hours in my week, I try to ask myself, "What's really the best use of my time?"

      Outsourcing my grocery delivery gets me an extra hour for work or family time -- which I often value more than the few extra bucks I pay for this service.

      So if you are in a busy week or a busy season, and want to give it a try, here are my picks:

      Winner: Instacart
      Best mix of store variety, flexibility, site, and price

      2nd: Shipt
      Site could be better organized, best delivery, similar price to Instacart

      3rd: Burpy
      Great site, but most expensive, worst shopper/delivery experience




      Nicole Vickey
      Nicole Vickey

      Author



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