Ditch the supermarket: Google, Instacart and Postmates to deliver grocery

Jun 20 2014, 13:09 IST
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The services are different from more established grocery delivery companies such as FreshDirect, Peapod and AmazonFresh. The services are different from more established grocery delivery companies such as FreshDirect, Peapod and AmazonFresh.
SummarySame-day grocery delivery services from Google, Instacart and Postmates are expanding into more cities around the country.

If you dread making supermarket runs, you're in luck.

Same-day grocery delivery services from Google, Instacart and Postmates are expanding into more cities around the country, delivering everything from cereal to bottled water to toilet paper from nearby stores.

I tried out all three services, and they're fast, easy to use and way more convenient than waiting in the checkout line. All three deliver from local stores as well as some big national chains, such as Whole Foods, Costco and Target.

The services are different from more established grocery delivery companies such as FreshDirect, Peapod and AmazonFresh, because they don't actually sell groceries directly to you. Google Shopping Express, Instacart and Postmates merely send someone to stores in your neighborhood. It works like this: You select what you want online or on an app, choose a delivery time and the service will deliver the items to your door.

But convenience comes at a price. The delivery charges can vary greatly. Google and Instacart offer flat rates, while Postmates' fees depend on the distance of the delivery. And you may want to tip the delivery people. All three companies say it's not necessary, but Instacart and Postmates allows you to add a tip while shopping on the app or website.

Besides delivery costs, Instacart charges a premium for items from some of the stores it delivers from. That means you will end up paying a lot more than if you walked over to the shop and bought it yourself.

Another downside: getting your groceries delivered means you may be missing out on using coupons or browsing for cheaper alternatives in the store. And the orders do not always go according to plan. If an item is sold out, the delivery person will call you to figure out what to do next.

Before ordering, run an Internet search to see any coupon codes are available. I found discounts or free delivery offers for all three.

Here's how the services measured up:

GOOGLE SHOPPING EXPRESS

Items listed on Google's service match those of the stores it works with. That's because Google shares in the profits. The biggest downside is that the company doesn't deliver meats, fish, fruits and other perishable groceries yet, even though it delivers from stores that sell them, including Target, Fairway and Costco. (You need to have a membership to order from Costco.) Google says it is working on a way to sell perishables

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