Help Me Hank: Putting grocery home delivery, curbside pickup services to the test

How well do the services actually work?

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DETROIT – Getting groceries delivered right to you is supposed to save you time and money, but how do the different apps stack up? Do the shoppers get you exactly what’s on your grocery list?

Anything that makes life a little easier is worth trying out, right? But why should you have to risk your time and patience trying out a service you’re not sure of when Help Me Hank can do it for you?

We tested out two types of services: home delivery and curbside pickup. 

Home delivery

We’re putting Shipt to the test against InstaCart. Here are our results. 

Shipt (Meijer)

Ordered at: 10:23 a.m.
Estimated Arrival: noon to 1 p.m.
Delivered at: 12:23 p.m.
Price: $39.44 
(We added at $5 tip.)
Delivery Fee: None 
(We took advantage of the free 14-day trial.) 
Delivery Fee Information:
If you become a member, you receive free delivery for orders over $35. Orders less than $35 will have a flat $7 delivery fee added to your total to help with the picking, packaging and processing of your order. A membership for Shipt is $99 per year or $14 per month. 

How are prices of items determined?
The price you see in the Shipt app is the price you pay. Shipt prices will vary slightly from in-store prices to help cover the costs of picking, packing and processing. Our members can expect to pay about $5 more using Shipt than they would on a $35 order purchased in the store themselves. When ordering from select retailers, a small service fee will be added at checkout. For example, a loaf of Wonder Bread costs $2.29 in the store and $2.59 to have it delivered to your door using Shipt. 

Other stores on the Shipt App: Meijer, Target, and CVS Pharmacy 

Our results: We were pleasantly surprised that our shopper paid attention to the note that Hank wanted his bananas green/yellow. It did take two hours from the time we ordered, but to be fair, that was the well within the timeline the app gave us that it would be delivered in. There were a lot of text messages from our shopper that came in through every stage our shopper was in. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to be bothered and just wants to know when the groceries are on the way, it might get to be too much. But if you’re someone who wants to be kept informed, this is perfect! All the items were still cool to the touch when it was delivered, much like it would be if we had gone to the store ourselves. 

Click here to visit the Shipt website

Instacart (Kroger) 

Ordered at: 10:23 a.m. 
Estimated Arrival: 10:55-11:25 a.m.
Delivered at: 11:00 a.m.
Price: $51.49 
(We added at $5 tip.)
Delivery Fee: $10

Delivery Fee Information: 
The delivery fee depends on the size of your order and the delivery time that you choose. The fee for each delivery will be displayed when selecting a delivery window during checkout, before you place your order. Instacart Express now costs $99 per year and offers unlimited free grocery delivery on orders of $35 or more with no service or default delivery fee. Monthly Express membership is $9.99.

How are prices of items determined? 
As part of Instacart’s commitment to clear and affordable pricing, we regularly run limited time pricing tests for new and existing customers and Instacart Express members. There are several pricing options that we explore as part of these tests, including adjustments to the cost of the Instacart Express membership, service and delivery fees, and default tip amounts, among others.

Other stores on the Instacart App: Costco, Whole Foods, Meijer, Plum Market, Petco, Sam’s Club, Aldi, CVS Pharmacy, Sur La Table, Fresh Thyme  

Our results: Just like Shipt, we loved that the shopper specifically picked out the right bananas we were looking for. He broke one off a bunch to make sure all five were brown enough for banana bread. He even wished our producer luck in baking! The price was higher with the delivery fee, but it was well worth it for the convenience of not going to the store. All the items were cold to the touch still. While ¾ of the potatoes were ones our producer would pick out for herself while shopping, one was a little mushy on the end and not one she would normally choose. We were super excited with how fast the Instacart shopper came! It came within 45 minutes of ordering when our producer scheduled it to come within an hour. The app did email when the shopper was expected to be held up and was going to be later than expected. That was much appreciated! (Even though it still came on time!) 

Click here to visit the Instacart website

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Pick up/Curbside delivery 


Ordered at: 11:20 a.m. 
Estimated Time of Readiness: Didn’t give a time. 
The app says it will send you an email when it’s ready. When it is, you click on the button that will ask you to let them know when you’re on your way. The store closes at 11 p.m…so you have time to pick it up! There’s also GPS tracking that will let the store know where you are in your drive. When we parked, our shopper came out in less than 2 minutes. The shopper will then scan a barcode on your app to confirm it’s yours, you sign, and you are on your way! 
Ready Email/Notification on Phone Came in at:  11:35 a.m.
Price: $41.30
(There’s no extra fee.) 

Our results: The app was easy to use, and our producer loved that she could pick it up whenever and wasn’t given a specific time frame to pick it up. The list was short, but it was ready within 15 minutes! There was a downside; for some reason, we weren’t able to order any produce or most grocery items from the Target near our location. That store is also a full-service Target, so we found that odd and a little frustrating. All considered, it was a pretty good experience! 

Click here for more information on Target’s drive-up service


Ordered at: 11:20 a.m.
Estimated Time of Readiness: Between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. 
 I was hoping I could pick up sooner, but in the time it took me to pick out what I needed, I was bumped up an hour to that time frame. When you get the notification, you’re to hop on the app and let them know you’re coming.  Seconds after I arrived in the designated parking space, my shopper came out with my stuff, I signed, and I was on my way! 
Ready Email/Notification on Phone Came in at:  4:30 p.m.
Price: $38.58
(There’s no extra fee.) 

Our results: I was very happy with this experience! The app was easy to use and the shopper was FAST getting to me in my car. I wish I could have picked up earlier, but I guess I should have started my shopping sooner. Something to think about for the future. 

Click here for more information on Walmart’s curbside delivery

Other stores that offer curbside pickup:
            Sam’s Club

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About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.