The other night a friend stopped by while I was putting some groceries away. “I see you’ve gone to the store,” he said.
“Even better,” I replied, “the store came to me.”
Just a few minutes before that, a very pleasant young woman rang my doorbell and handed me two bags from Publix. It was my first order from Shipt, a service that allows you to stroll the virtual aisles of the supermarket in the comfort of your own home via an an app on your smartphone. I have to tell you, if Publix is “Where shopping is a pleasure,” shopping in your underwear with a glass of wine is euphoric. And by the way, you can order the wine through Shipt now, too, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Shipt is part of the growing “gig economy” wherein jobs, tasks and services are completed by independent contractors. Uber, the ride-hailing service, is a good example of a gig economy service. And in fact Shipt works similarly.
With Shipt, you sign up for the service and pay a monthly or annual fee. (Stick with me and I’ll tell you how to get a free trial and some free groceries, to boot.) After you download the app to your smartphone and enter in your details, you’re up and shopping in minutes.
If you click on the Publix icon, you have various ways to do your shopping. You can browse by category, such as canned goods, dairy and eggs, meat and seafood, and so on. You can even shop only those items that are on sale, including Publix’s popular BOGO deals for buy one, get one bargains. I also like that once you’ve purchased something, you have your own “buy again” category so you don’t have to go searching through the app.
You might have your very specific shopping list and just want to go directly to those items. Or, like me, you might wander through the various categories and remember some things you need. (Oh, 9-volt batteries are on sale and the one in my garage door opener just died. Boom.)
When you see something you want, click to add it to the cart. Adjust the number of the item you want — if it’s a BOGO two of the item will be added automatically — and move on. There is even an option to add a note. For example, on the boneless pork loin you could add a note to find the largest one available.
That note will go to your shopper, because this is where the comparison to Uber really kicks in. After you place your order, it goes up for grabs to the people who have signed up with Shipt to be shoppers. The order gets “claimed,” and the shopper goes to the store, pulls all the items, checks out and pays for them, then delivers them to you.
You even get to choose the time window you’d like to receive your groceries. And they’re in one-hour increments, so it’s a lot more convenient than waiting around for the cable repairman to show up.
Shortly after I placed my order, I saw that someone named Luz had claimed it. And just a couple of minutes before the designated delivery window opened, I got a text message saying she was on her way. She was at my door less than five minutes after the top of the hour.
And there was no fumbling for money at the door. (Pants, yes; money, no.) Everything is paid for in advance through the credit card you used when you signed up. You don’t even have to pull your wallet out for a tip.
But, unlike Uber, which officially discourages tipping, gratuities are very much appreciated. But you can add one via the app after the delivery, and you can also rate your shopper.
But I mentioned something about wine, didn’t I?
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits recently signed on as one of Shipt’s stores, so you can you can restock the wine cellar — and the liquor cabinet — the same way, even browsing for the items that are on sale. I especially like that with the wine selections, the listings include tasting notes and details about the wine. Very helpful.
Just to see how the service worked, I ordered a bottle of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, mainly because, as I mentioned recently, Tito’s is donating $1 for every bottle purchased from ABC to Canine Companions for Independence through August 3.
Everything worked about the same, with one not surprising difference. When my vodka arrived — I ordered if for delivery the following day because I didn’t want to look desperate — the driver required that I present my identification, which he scanned as part of the purchase record.
So you’re wondering what it costs and how do these people make a living? And didn’t I say something about free food?
Besides the fee — $14 monthly or $99 annually — the prices for the items that you purchase via Shipt are slightly higher. (Slightly in most cases, anyway. When I was shopping, I was comparing prices on the app to the Publix weekly flyer, which had a special on broccoli, $3 for two. But the price on the app was more than $3 for one. But that was an anomaly, apparently.) Also, grocery orders of $35 or more do not have a delivery fee; it’s $7 if you’re just jonesing for Ben & Jerry’s and that’s all you want.
I received a complimentary membership and credit to give Shipt a try, and I’d like to do the same for you. If you follow this link, you’ll get a free two-week trial and $10 in credit toward your first grocery order. What’s not to like about free groceries?
I liked my Shipt experience and will certainly use it again. I can see it being useful when I’m returning from a trip and know that I don’t have anything in the fridge; I can order from the plane and have the food delivered as I arrive at home. Or if I’m not feeling well and want some soup. Or some Ben & Jerry’s. Or if I’m getting ready for a dinner party and realize there are some things I need. I can order them for delivery without having to take the time away from getting the rest of the meal prepared.
Otherwise, I’d have to jump in my car and go to the store myself. Or call Uber.