Paying someone to shop for your groceries might sound like a luxury many budgets can’t afford. However, the services might actually save you some money.
In my area, two grocery stores, Harris Teeter sometimes even runs specials, offering free shops for orders over $100 or for purchasing certain products. I used to use Lowes Foods’ shopping service frequently. When they closed the store where I did my shopping, Lowes Foods gave me a year’s worth of free shops (worth $99) to compensate for the inconvenience of having to drive a few miles to the next closest store.
How Grocery Shopping Services Work
To use a grocery shopping service, you place your order online and schedule a pickup time, usually for the same day or the following day. Your shopper will give you a call if there are any questions about your order.
At the appointed time, you pull up to the pickup area and buzz for your shopper, state your name and wait for your groceries to be brought out. Your personal shopper processes your payment via credit card, debit card, check or cash, then loads your groceries into your car. You never have to leave the vehicle.
The shopper also collects any coupons you have, and deducts them from your next shopping order. I put my coupons in an envelope marked with my last name and the word “coupons.” You’ll receive a standard grocery receipt and a printed summary of your order, noting any missing items or substitutions.
Here are some ways in which a grocery store shopping service might be worthwhile and even pay for itself, and then some.
Less Impulse Buying
Grocery stores are laid out with impulse buys in mind, tempting you with free samples and end caps filled with advertised merchandise. With online shopping, you avoid the temptation to buy that delicious looking take-home pizza or that tray of muffins that’s on sale, or anything else that might strike your fancy while browsing the aisles.
Kids Can’t Throw Things in the Cart
If you have kids and can honestly say you’ve never bought something the kids wanted that wasn’t on your list, I’d probably have trouble believing you. Or maybe I wouldn’t want to believe other parents have more fortitude than I do.
I certainly don’t buy everything my kids ask for, or I’d have the cart filled before I bought anything on my list. With online shopping, there’s no going through the cereal aisle at top speed or praying that the checkouts aren’t lined up so the kids aren’t grabbing candy every 30 seconds and pleading to buy it.
Ease of Using Coupons
Though online shopping means your coupons get deducted with your next order, finding the right items to coincide with all of your coupons is super easy. You won’t have to try to figure out where something is and traipse around the store looking for it. Your shopper knows where everything is, and will even check storage if something is out of stock on the shelves.
Better Substitutions for Sale Items
When I use online grocery shopping, I always check the “no substitutions” box during checkout, so I’m consulted before the shopper makes any subs for products they don’t have. Often, if they’re out of stock on something, they’ll offer me a similar item that’s not on sale at the same price. One time, I’d asked for two boxes of a certain variety of Harris Teeter brand frozen waffles, which were on sale for $1. Since they didn’t have what I wanted, the shopper offered me the Eggo brand waffles at the same price.
Get Stock-Up Items While They’re Still Available
Grocery stores sometimes sell out of sale items that offer the best deals before the bulk of customers make it to the store to do their grocery shopping on the weekend. If you arrange online to have your grocery shopping done early on the first day of a sale, you’re more likely to nab all of the items you want.
This is especially handy when a store runs a special promotion like super doubles or triple coupons and high-demand items disappear within a day or two. Plus, some stores might not bother to re-stock shelves when an item is free or dirt cheap after coupon, but a personal shopper will probably check the stockroom for items if the shelves are empty.
Running Tab of How Much You’re Spending
With online shopping, you can see the running total of everything that’s in your cart. You can easily remove items if the amount goes over budget.
Grocery stores know they can’t compete with Walmart on prices. The average shopper doesn’t match up coupons with sales to maximize their savings at regular grocery stores. Grocery stores have to find ways to differentiate themselves from Walmart, and online shopping is one way they do it.