Online grocery order and pick up: A full review
How does it all work and does it really save time?
Online grocery shopping with pick up and delivery has gained popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic as some people may not feel safe going into stores. I used to go in, properly suited up with a mask and gloves, until my usual store closed due to lack of customers. Operations of the regional chain were allocated to their other locations, and caused significant foot traffic during a time when social distancing is our new normal.
My overall grocery store trips have diminished even though the stay-at-home orders were recently lifted in my area. Since I'm still not going to work, I don't need to buy food for lunch, and I eat less when I'm sitting at home doing nothing (as long as I don't buy sweets, but that has failed wonderfully).
Since the stores around me are now uncomfortably crowded, I opted for grocery pick up this time. I'd like to share what it's all like, including if it really saves you time and hassle.
Miosotis Jade / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
I ordered from the Fresh Market, which specializes in dietary based foods like organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, etc.
It began by logging onto their website and choosing which store to pick up at. Then, I searched their inventory, chose quantities of each item, and added them into my virtual shopping cart. It's set up the same as any other online retailer, which is simple and straight-forward.
Screenshot of the online shopping experience
I chose a time slot for pick up, two hours from the time my order was placed. I paid by credit card on their site, so all I had to do was show up at the store during my pick up window and get my groceries. Here's a glimpse at part of my order:
This store used Instacart to process the order. The app is neat because it shows the progress of your shopper in real time and sends updates via text message.
There were several items not in stock (more about this later), and it gave me the option to substitute it or get a refund. The app prompts you to approve or decline these substitutes and refunds. You can even chat with your shopper, but I didn't use that feature. Here's a look at my substitute and refunded items:
The app allowed me to choose my substitute items which was nice, so there were no surprises. The substitutes were not too different from my original choices, such as getting low sodium black beans instead of regular sodium ones. If there wasn't a replacement, I simply got a refund.
I did not see the price of the substitute items. A small bag of cumin was replaced with a jar that cost $2 more. The price might have been somewhere but as you can see above, it was not easily viewable on the main screen.
My order was ready in about 30 minutes. That's fantastic fast service, but I had something else to do before picking up two hours later. When it came close to my pick up time, I received a text that indicated I actually had until store closing at 8 p.m. So if you don't make your time slot, you don't need to worry. The groceries are stored in a temperature controlled area for freshness until you arrive that day.
At the store, I pulled into one of the designated parking spots. I selected a button on the app that said "I'm at the store" and it prompted me with a few quick questions, such as the make, model, and color of my car so the associate could easily find me. I waited only 2-3 minutes for the associate to come outside with my groceries.
If you're worried about someone else shopping for you because of coronavirus concerns, don't be. Remember, stores don't want the virus infecting their facilities because it could turn into nasty lawsuits, so that's a big reason they're on top of sanitizing everything. Masks are mandatory for customers and employees, and you must wear one even when picking up.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Because some of the items were not in stock, I had to go in to a different store. Depending on where you live, another grocery store could be a few blocks away or miles. This can be inconvenient. Mine was just up the road, but it was packed with people and as I walked in, there was a customer fighting with a manager over the mask policy. Then the police showed up.
Overall, the grocery pick up experience was alright. However, that changed when I went through my groceries at home and found the vegetable stock they gave me was opened, and they gave me parsley instead of cilantro. Because of the items that weren't in stock and the ones that were wrong, I won't be using grocery pick up again. My grandmother had a similar experience at another store. For me, it will continue to be easiest to go into a store and get everything.