Ask any of my close friends and they’ll tell you that I bombarded them with promo codes when I first heard of services like Shipt and Walmart Grocery Pickup. Convenience, all wrapped up in a shiny, user-friendly app… this was the answer to every parent’s prayers!
I have two small children, and my toddler who is home with me full time can be quite difficult to wrangle through a grocery store. A little over a year ago, I started using the Shipt app and thought it was a game-changer. You download the app, pay a sign-up fee, click “Add to Cart” and, voila! A Shipt shopper delivers the items to your door, and bonus: no screaming toddler. You only need to spend a minimum of $35 to get free delivery. I started regularly ordering groceries and toiletries at least 1-2 times per week.
Here’s the catch: you’re expected to tip your Shipt shopper on every order. And, prices in the app vary slightly from in-store prices.
For example, a loaf of bread in the store may cost $2.29 but Shipt will charge $2.59. Select retailers can even charge a small service fee. Thirty cents extra doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but spread it throughout $50 of groceries, several times a month and it can add up to a nice chunk of change.
My husband and I went over our budget a few months into my Shipt craze and right in front of me, there it was. We were spending an average of thirty to forty dollars per month on tipping alone, not to mention how much extra we were spending on the groceries themselves. Ouch. I realized that while this service may be very convenient, it comes at a hefty price. After some moaning and groaning on my part, we decided that money would be better allocated to savings for vacation planning or the kids’ tuition. And just like that, I had to break up with Shipt.
No problem, though! Walmart was starting their Grocery Pickup service and while I would have to leave my house, at least I didn’t have to walk the aisles, pay extra for the service, or tip anyone.
At first, Walmart’s grocery pickup was a dream. It’s the same concept as Shipt, but you check-in on the app when you’re on your way, and they will bring your groceries right out to your car. As the months went on and the service started to become more popular, I noticed several more cars all lined up beside me. I was now waiting 20-30 minutes for them to bring my groceries out. It’s all fun and convenient until you have two cranky kids in the car with you! Every trip, there seemed to be a frustrating issue I was having to deal with. Whether it was a leaking, busted carton of milk or a torn bag of frozen veggies, I now had to replace these items on my own and sit through the hassle of the refund process. Recently, they canceled my order with no explanation right before I was due to pick it up.
This was suddenly turning out to be not so convenient after all.
Some argue that these apps help save money by not browsing the aisles of grocery stores and impulsively throwing items you don’t really need in your cart. However, I’m the type of person that thinks it’s so much easier to overspend by clicking a button than have to go up and down the aisles to get what I need. When I go to the grocery, I’m in and out and stick to a list because I just don’t enjoy browsing. I’m actually less likely to spend more money stepping foot in the actual store.
Of course, these apps aren’t all bad, and I’ve still been known to use them from time to time if I’m in a bind. They have their upside, such as:
- It’s 8 pm and you forgot tomorrow is snack day.
- You’re sick and can’t fathom getting out of bed.
- You’ve just gotten home from a trip and need essentials to start your week.
- You just need a break from time to time.