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A few years back, I wrote about a growing phenomenon sweeping the nation when shopping from home for food and groceries was starting to boom. It has done nothing but continue to grow and there are no signs of it going away anytime soon. In fact, you would be hard pressed now to find a major grocer who isn’t building their shop at home business. Until store pick-up and home delivery is replaced by the ability to “teleport” groceries from stores right to your kitchen table, it’s going to continue to be a popular option for all of us!
The Process of Shop at Home (SAH)
The ability to “shop at home” (SAH), to order your groceries online or through mobile apps, has been an incredible time saver and in many cases a cost saver, too! It’s generally the same prices you pay in the store, including all of the weekly sales and special pricing (although some stores do have different pricing). It may even be more advantageous on the SAH listings depending on which items you buy. You still use your savings/loyalty card to obtain the best deals, and you can use all applicable manufacturer’s or store coupons to maximize your savings.
As you might expect, there is a service charge and it varies from store to store, but even with those charges, it can be a savings in terms of your time, energy, and convenience. Imagine being able to order your groceries while at work on a lunch break, and then picking them up on your way home or having them delivered to your home or workplace saving time, money, and even gasoline! In any event, as an incentive to try the services out, there are usually discounts or even free deliveries on you initial order(s) to get you to become a fan of SAH.
Here are Some of the Basics You Need to Know
SAH can be just that, shop and have it delivered at the time and day you choose to be most convenient for you. There are even discounts regularly offered on the delivery fees when you choose a time that is among the least popular, like daytime during a weekday for example.
Or, there’s the old reliable method of simply driving to the supermarket after you have ordered and picking it up from their parking area on your specific selected day and time. You set the delivery or pickup time for your own convenience.
Once you are familiar with your basic product needs and pricing, you can shop with confidence about the selections and be assured of them filling your order properly. In fact, in almost every case, the shopping list you used is remembered online to facilitate your buying the same things you buy on a regular cycle like eggs, milk, and bread, for example. Your shopping lists are retained in your SAH profile. That saves you time as well.
So, the Small Details are Really Big Details
Almost 100% of the items you’d find in the supermarket are also online, including store brands, bakery, produce, and meat. Every item you are looking at will have a picture and/or complete description of the product, so you can more easily evaluate your needs. Even produce items are worthy because the quantity you order is usually per piece rather than per pound and is hand selected to insure freshness and condition, so you try it out for a small amount of money. Item price and unit pricing are displayed, and can even be sorted to show you at a glance which items are really least expensive, even on a special sale.
The fresh items are picked by staff familiar with the produce and who regularly do these tasks. They choose items that you will be satisfied with, so you will continue to use the service. You can even make notations on your order, such as that you like your bananas very ripe, and they will do their best to accommodate.
Substitutions are optional if your requested item is out of stock and you prefer that rather than omitting it from your order (or you can specify no substitutions). When I’ve received substitutions, it’s usually been a better quality product or brand name instead of store brand, so I’ve had no complaints!
The Pick Up or Delivery Process
For pick-ups, special parking areas are provided near the store so you don’t even have to get out of your car! Your order is brought to you and placed in your car by the SAH staff. Just press a button to open your trunk and they drop it in before coming to your driver window to finish the sale.
At the store, coupons are deducted from your total shop when you pick up your groceries. (Be sure to look for SAH new customer coupons for discounts on your first order). Plus, you still receive any coupons generated by the system on your order receipt that you can use the next time you shop!
When receiving a delivery, you will still get your coupon credits, but usually they come as credit to your account after the deliveries and coupons are processed. All major credit/debit cards are accepted so there is no need to have cash on hand.
Originally, a percentage of your total purchase was added to your order at varying thresholds like $100-$150 having a 10% fee. That has changed more recently to being a minimum fee based on a minimum order of say $5.95 on a minimum $60 order.
When you consider this service has saved you perhaps 1-2 hours of shopping time, 20 minutes of driving (and gasoline costs), plus eliminated those very costly impulse buys, the fee is quite reasonable. If the order totals more than a set threshold amount, generally there is a flat rate delivery fee, such as $10 for the service. That means on large orders your savings can be even greater on a percentage basis. Paying that fee may well be worth saving your time and energy.
Many stores actually have a “no tip” policy. If you want to tip of course you should, but the policy indicates the delivery person is not depending on tips for survival!
Most Popular US Grocers That Offer SAH
For some supermarkets, delivery service is provided by the stores themselves, but others use a grocery delivery service to transport the food to your home. The most popular one of these outsourced services is Instacart which is available to use through their website or can be downloaded as an app that is available for Apple and Android products.
There are a ton of grocery services already available in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and many more as they are constantly expanding. Although this luxury is not yet available everywhere, the grocery delivery business is booming and is expected to be brought to many more cities in the U.S. Check out this list to see if any of these grocery stores currently deliver to your area:
Acme Markets – Delivers to areas of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Also offers pick-up at their facilities.
Albertsons – Delivery in eight areas, with home delivery for $9.95 or the option to shop online and then pick-up at a store for $4.95.
Aldi – Everyone’s favorite discount grocer is now offering shop at home through Instacart to limited areas. Rollout to all divisions should occur within a few months.
Costco – Provides delivery on-demand through Instacart, and you don’t even have to have a Costco membership to use this service. Get all the bulk food you want with this new feature. You’ll have the option of your food arriving as soon as an hour after your order.
Giant Foods – Delivery is direct through this very popular grocery retailer!
Harris Tweeter – Order In Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, or Maryland and pickup and delivery through their Express Lane online shopping service.
Publix – Delivery is available across the Southeast U.S. Find out if delivery is available near you through Instacart. It is expanding to new areas all the time!
Safeway – This grocery store is mainly located in the Western part of the U.S., though they do have a few stores in the Mid-Atlantic region. Safeway offers same day delivery by ordering either online or through an app that has the same features as the website but with the convenience of being able to order groceries anywhere.
ShopRite – Located in the Northeast, they now offer pick–up and delivery services in certain areas.
Stop and Shop – Offers services directly.
Walmart – They have recently introduced Walmart Grocery pickup and delivery service that allows customers to place orders online and either pickup their items for free or have them delivered to their home for a fee. Check if Walmart is offering these conveniences in your area by visiting their website.
Wegmans – Delivery to you via Instacart in an hour or less! Just go to their website for all the details including free delivery to get started.
Whole Foods – Offering groceries delivered in one hour through Instacart. Prices are the same as they are in store and delivery starts at just $5.99.
Note: You can’t overlook Amazon Grocery. The well-known web retailer offers thousands of non-perishable items and offers large discounts for subscription items that are delivered at regular intervals…in case you think that might work better for you!
Think of all those rainy, stormy, steamy days and nights and you will see how appealing SAH can be. It is no longer necessary to drag your small children around the market, or to carry your infant in and out of the car while you shop. You no longer have to carry a trip’s worth of groceries up two flights of stairs to your apartment, or lug a heavy bag of pet food or case of bottled water. For the busy, stressed, or physically impaired person, this can be a real lifesaver.
Check out all of your options of SAH services at your favorite supermarket online and decide for yourself. It may be the answer to a big question on your list of your most basic needs.
Have you tried shop at home services? How was your experience? Would you use it again?