Online Grocery Delivery Services

Category: Shopping

Everybody knows that Google delivers search results to your computer screen. Now Google is experimenting with the concept of delivering groceries to your front porch. But they're just one of many online grocery delivery services. Read on to learn how to get your bananas and frozen pizza delivered with just a few clicks…

Don't Forget the Milk!

Google Express has started delivery of fresh foods to homes and businesses in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, and other cities. With a Google Express membership, delivery is free on eligible orders over $15. New customers can try it free for three months.

Google doesn't have their own grocery stores. You shop for what you need, selecting items from popular stores like Costco, Fairway Market, Target and Walgreens. All your items go into a single online shopping cart. After making payment, a driver brings the order to your address. Same-day delivery within a selected timeframe is the norm, but overnight delivery is also available.

Google is competing against Amazon Fresh and startup Instacart. But these three Silicon Valley darlings are not the only grocery delivery services out there. Competition is heating up, and it may be time to look at this service more closely.

Online Grocery Delivery

The 1990s saw a host of grocery delivery dot-coms pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Most disintegrated just as fast as unpicked fungi (remember WebVan?). But others, such as Chicago’s Peapod, the Twin Cities/St. Cloud area’s CobornsDelivers, New York City’s FreshDirect, and the greater Toronto area’s Grocery Gateway are still around and even growing in popularity within their limited geographic markets.

“Limited markets” is the operative phrase here. Online grocery shopping and home delivery is an expensive, labor-intensive service to offer, and most of the players in it are either cherry-picking the same handful of affluent, densely populated markets or catering to very local, loyal customers. If you try Amazon Fresh or Instacart, the odds are you’ll be disappointed to find they don’t deliver to your Zip Code.

Comparing Online Grocery Delivery Services

Major supermarket chains, including Safeway and Kroger, clumsily climbed aboard the delivery wagon during the WebVan era. But today, their online shopping sites look like they’re still stuck in the early 1990s. Their high minimum orders ($50 or more) and double-digit delivery fees virtually scream, “We don’t want to do this and you’re going to pay dearly if you make us.” Traditional supermarkets bank on customers coming into their stores; impulse purchases are baked into their business models.

I'm surprised that Google hasn't married their grocery delivery service to their driverless car initiative. Maybe that's coming soon. Will Amazon use a fleet of aerial drones to deliver your Corn Flakes? And I'm fine with robots delivering my groceries, as long as they don't hang around and try to slap the cookie out of my hand.

Amazon Fresh debuted with an eye-popping $299 annual membership fee, which includes the benefits of a Prime membership. Recently, Amazon started testing an alternative fee structure in “selected California cities.” Regular $99/year Prime members can get grocery orders of $50 or more delivered for $7.99. Peapod charges delivery fees of $9.95, $7.95, or $6.95 on orders over $100, between $75 and $100, and under $75, respectively.

Instacart’s delivery fees are demand-sensitive, much like Uber’s “surge pricing” fares. During periods when everybody wants their groceries delivered, “a few dollars more” will be added to the base fee, which ranges from $3.99 to $9.99 depending on order size. An “Express Membership” provides free delivery on orders over $35 and costs $99 per year, with a 14-day free trial period.

Walmart Grocery Delivery seems to be available in more suburban, middle-class neighborhoods, and its terms are more generous. Minimum orders are $30 to $35, and delivery fees range from $7 down to zero. You can get free delivery by selecting a two-hour time slot that’s marked with a green leaf (for “environmentally friendly”), indicating that other deliveries are already scheduled in your area during that time period.

I have my doubts that I'll get the freshest food when ordering online. Will they send the day-old bread or wilted produce out with the online orders? And does a kid at Fairway know how to pick an avocado that'll be ripe in two days? On the other hand, it does offer convenience to the home-bound and busy people with limited time to shop. And in some cases, you'll have the ability to compare the price of an item across multiple stores.

It’s unlikely that grocery delivery service will ever be ubiquitous and affordable to all. But there are more options than ever before, and prices keep coming down. If home grocery delivery is of interest to you, it would pay to register your email address at any or all of the sites mentioned here, to be notified when service comes to your area.

Would you shop for groceries online? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Online Grocery Delivery Services"

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I live in the Boston area and have used three different on-line delivery services in the past and present. Peapod is also available in this area through the Stop & Shop grocery stores, there was the first in this area HomeRuns by Hanniford Markets they died after the profit margin was not high enough. Then Peapod, was ok but pricy. Now I have Roche Bros. Home Delivery, excellent quality food, NEVER in all the different outfits did I get spoiled food or obviously damaged. If I did they refunded the money or replaced it on the next order.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I live in the Boston area and have used three different on-line delivery services in the past and present. Peapos is also available in this area through the Stop & Shop grocery stores, there was the first in this area HomeRuns by Hanniford Markets they died after the profit margin was not high enough. Then Peapod, was ok but pricy. Now I have Roche Bros. Home Delivery, excellent quality food, NEVER in all the different outfits did I get spoiled food or obviously damaged. If I did they refunded the money or replaced it on the next order.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I've been a FreshDirect customer for almost 5 years and I never visit supermarkets any more. I get produce from local farms owned and operated by real people, not agribusinesses(local=within 200 miles of NYC); CSA shares; incredibly fresh and high quality meat and fish, antibiotic-free and organic; and the usual run of things I'd pick up at the store. The convenience is wonderful, and the quality is as good as I would get at the farmers' market or a premium grocer like Citarella's. I don't have a car and I love to cook, so this is a lifesaver for me. It's fabulous for the car-free, the elderly, or the simply-too-busy-to-shop. I'll be a faithful FreshDirect customer for life!

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I know you're in the USA and online grocery shopping is as outlined above, but as a resident of the UK online grocery shopping is an everyday thing. Its also a HECK of a lot cheaper than you've outlined, and nearly all the good grocery stores deliver. They also have 1 hour delivery slots.

My great aunt, who is over 90, and lives in Sacramento, CA can't get a delivery unless she spends over $100 and pays $15 for delivery. It's pretty sick.

As a disabled person, if I didn't have the online grocery delivery I'd starve.

Posted by:

CJ Russell
15 Sep 2015

I would love to shop for groceries online. Unfortunately, no one delivers to my area at this point.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I've used both and Fresh Direct. I don't order most produce from them is that I can get it from street vendors who usually have good stuff for a lot less (I live in Manhattan.) When I've ordered online instead things are often not ripe enough but that's pretty common at most grocery stores.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I used Google Express during the beta period a year ago. I was recovering from an auto accident and couldn't drive. The timing of their beta was great for me. And it was free for 6 months back then while they were trying to figure out what to charge.

They didn't deliver fresh produce, meats, etc. back then. I don't know if they do now or not.

But they did deliver staples (canned goods, detergent, potato chips, etc.). Also wine. They also delivered from a number of my local stores that I normally shopped at. Also you could enter your various rewards cards for the stores and they you would get those credits too and any discounts that might be on your account.

At least here, I saw the Google shoppers at the stores. They would come in with there list and go around the store getting the stuff. Then they went to the register like everybody else. I think now they have a special checkout in the back of some of the stores.

Posted by:

Lawrence McDonald
15 Sep 2015

I live in a Chicago suburb, Oak Park, IL. I am extremely pleased with Peapod's service, freshness, and quality. Their house brands are excellent. Cost can be controlled by pacing deliveries, watching for sale items. and using coupons just like in regular stores. Strategic shopping online is fun and a lot less aggravation than parking in a crappy parking lot, pushing a cart through endless narrow aisles, searching high and low, and oh my, standing in line with aggravating people of all kinds. Deli products and produce are also fresh and excellent. I don't work for them. I'm just a real satisfied customer.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I have used free delivery from Walmart for orders exceeding $35.00. Not fresh produce or frozen goods, but bagged or boxed goods, paper products, personal care items... stuff that I am in no rush to receive so free 5 day delivery in our unincorporated area that saves me a trip into town works great.

Posted by:

George Keller
15 Sep 2015

We live in suburban New Jersey and have been using both Peapod and FreshDirect for a number of years. We've been very satisfied with both services. Any problems we have had were quickly corrected, and the food, especially produce, has been of very good quality.

Posted by:

The Baroness
15 Sep 2015

I live in Oregon and Safeway is a major grocery store chain here. They also deliver groceries to your home. Usual delivery fees range from $9.95 to $12.95 depending when you want delivery. Some orders over $150 are delivered free IF you buy 5 of their items on special. I NEVER have them "save" my credit card info. - I re-enter the info. every time I order groceries online. They usually get the orders correct but mistakes are made. Credit on your next order is offered if there are any slip-ups.

Posted by:

15 Sep 2015

I've used Peapod when I was unable to shop. It was very convenient and not too much higher in price than regular shopping. They had sale items and you could use coupons. The only thing
I didn't like was the cost of produce. It was always top of the line but costly for some reason. Overall it was a great help when I was laid up. I would recommend it to others especially if you are unable to get to a store.

Posted by:

16 Sep 2015

No grocery delivery for me. I use COUPONS LOTS OF COUPONS plus instore discounts plus the day old meat section. I also use the store AD comes out weekly they have BUNDLES that can save a buyer up to $30.00 to $40.00 on the bill.

If I was home bound, this service would be wonderful or to busy working great.
In the ole days we used grocery and drugstore delivery. So they are just bringing back,what use to be!

Posted by:

16 Sep 2015

Reminds me of the "good old days". My family ran a grocery store (way way back when) and this was the norm then, customer phone in order, store box and deliver, not to portch but right to kitchen table. Plus credit at 0 % interest. But I agree that this is labour intens plus vehicle maintenance. Great idea but hard to make a profit at.

Posted by:

18 Sep 2015

I use Peapod here in CT quite often and they are always prompt and I've never gotten anything that was old, spoiled or damaged. Once some of the eggs were cracked and I called and they credited the entire carton right away.

They also take coupons. You hand them to the driver, he scans them and Stop & Shop issues the credit to your credit card.

It's a time savor and in my opinion a money savor as you're not driving, parking, walking around grabbing enticing things off shelves, loading them in and out of your car and carrying them in the house. All of which takes the big "T", time.

Posted by:

Britney Mike
22 Mar 2016

I appreciate Boxed online grocery service. This offers all types of groceries like cleaning supplies, multi vites, baby and health products.

Posted by:

Jo Ann Auer
11 Apr 2017

How do I get notified of what is available in my area (44691)?

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