Best Grocery Delivery Plans for Seniors
Updated for December, 2021
|Greatest Ease of Use||Fastest Service||Best on a Budget|
|Try Instacart||Try AmazonFresh||Try Walmart-Postmates|
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How We Found the Best Grocery Delivery Plans for Seniors
Grocery Delivery Plans for Seniors we Reviewed:
Best Grocery Delivery Plans for Seniors
Grocery runs are a hassle which most busy seniors can do without.Even retirees think twice about venturing out if they realize they need a dinner item just as rush hour traffic kicks in. And while many people love in-store discounts and “face time”at the produce section, ordering in can streamline meal planning and cut down on impulse purchases. Most importantly, online delivery means greater independence for seniors who no can longer drive or carry heavy bags.
We’ve identifiedthe best grocery delivery plan options to help you find the best fit for your needsandbudget.While Google Express and similar businesses offer convenient and cost-effective food at your doorsteps, its focus is primarily on dry goods. Below you will find the top options for one-stop grocery solutions that include produce and temperature-controlled items.
Features & Specs
- Users pay for in-store prices plus a delivery fee
- $7.99 for one-hour delivery
- $5.99 for deliveries of two or more hours
- Optional $149 membership includes free delivery
- Can be used via Smartphone app or website
- Pickup option available instead of delivery
- Fast delivery
- Ease of use, particularly in finding special dietary options
- Prompt customer service
- Widespread service throughout United States
- Annual membership can be a savings for regular customers
- Pricing varies depending on stores and items, which can occasionally make delivery very costly
- 5% non-waivable service fee and other “nickel and dime” catches
- May not be cost-effective for sporadic consumers
- Some Instacart shoppers are better than others about consulting customers on item replacements.
When time and quality are both of the essence, Instacart is the current star. Named “The Most Promising Company in America” by Forbes in 2015, this San Francisco-based startup serves over 40 states, including Hawaii and smaller localities. Ordering food is as simple as inputting a ZIP code, choosing among area grocers, and selecting from inventory. There is a brief time window to amend orders.
Instacart’s user-friendly system streamlines the shopping experience and makes it easy to take advantage of sales, spot items that fit dietary restrictions, and specify replacement options if an item isn’t available. You can choose from affiliates like Whole Foods, Publix, CostCo, CVS, and PetCo. Past purchases are saved irrespective of what store you have ordered from. This makes it convenient to comparison shop between Instacart stores to find the best price for a favorite product. Depending on availability, groceries can be delivered within two hours or even within one hour at a higher fee.
Unlike some competitors, Instacart does not deliver from warehouses or centralized fulfillment centers. Shoppers – who are independent contractors rather than company employees – contact customers about item replacements. A tipping system makes it easy to review Instacart Shoppers and tip at discretion.
The company’s fees were recently considered the lowest in the industry. A convenient Instacart Express Membership can pay for itself if you plan to use their service long-term and order at least three times a month. Even though Whole Foods has recently been acquired by Amazon, it still has a partnership with Instacart which allows customers to order from them at in-store prices.
That said, the company recently began charging a non-waivable 5% service fee on all orders. Even when a service is “free,” another charge elsewhere can make up the difference in total cost. There have also been issues with the annual subscription fee auto-renewing without a customer’s knowledge and the cancellation taking some time to reflect on a credit card account. Nevertheless, Instacart’s pricing remains competitive with other companies, and its customer service department is consistently helpful and proactive in addressing service issues.
Features & Specs
- Prime membership required
- Amazon Fresh is additional $15/month on top of Prime membership
- Delivery is free for orders of $50 or more
- Same-day and next-day delivery options
- Very fast service
- Perfect for subscribers to Amazon Prime or other Amazon services
- Affordable membership
- Free delivery
- Spoil-resistant packaging
- Consistency in service quality
- Limited delivery range
- Not cost-effective for those who do not order extensively from Amazon
- Higher delivery fee than competitors
With 95 million Amazon Prime subscribers in the U.S., any brand extension can spell savings for the busy consumer. Prime members receive free delivery on almost all AmazonFresh orders and need only pay an additional fee that usually runs very low. If you order at least once a week, this grocery delivery option is as cost-effective as it is convenient.
AmazonFresh’s unique selling proposition is its speed. Its system allows customers to schedule an order at a specific time slot and indicate whether or not someone will be home when the delivery arrives. Even when there are delays getting an order inside, careful packaging with coolants in insulated containers ensures that perishables will not spoil or wilt.
Store selections include both Whole Foods inventory and Amazon’s proprietary groceries, household products, and beauty, as well as a “local market” offerings. Consumers with special dietary needs can find an array of vegan, kosher, GMO-free, USDA Organic, and other specialties. Regrettably, the website layout and search options are not as helpful as they appear: a search under “vegan” presents a time-wasting scroll-down of fresh fruits and other obvious options that can be found anywhere.
Pricing varies with this service. While AmazonFresh produce has been known to be 25 to 50% higher than some local groceries, other items run cheaper than local brick-and-mortar options. The annual fee, combined with the Amazon Prime fee structure, sets shoppers back almost $300 a year. Delivery fees, however, are free for orders over $40 – higher than the $35 quota of Instacart and Shipt, but lower than others.
While Fresh Deals offer an array of coupons for both groceries and non-edibles, the discounts aren’t exciting enough to redeem otherwise high prices. If your city’s cost of living is relatively low and you don’t already order extensively from Amazon services, this is probably not the delivery provider for you.
AmazonFresh seems to work best for consumers who already order enough deliveries to justify the cost of Amazon Prime or other Amazon services. It may also make sense for those who place large orders at a time and can’t easily access a supermarket. Keep in mind, however, that AmazonFresh has limited coverage, and it exited several cities in late 2017.
Features & Specs
- Orders can be made via Smartphone app or website
- Orders are fulfilled through Walmart employees, while delivery is handled by Postmates
- Same-day delivery is a $10 fee, with a minimum of $30 per order
- Training program designed so shoppers pick highest quality products
- No annual fee
- Diverse array of options, including pickup and advance delivery
- Currently has the lowest minimum order of all online delivery companies
- Consistently low prices without add-ons common with competitors
- Quality control training for personal shoppers
- Partnership with Postmates offers a good combination of quality and speed
- Does not yet offer delivery options in all markets
- Unclear on website whether delivery or pickup is offered locally
- Produce quality and customer service varies by store
- Service is still relatively new, so it remains to be seen if it will be the most cost-effective option for consumers
The convenience giant Walmart has recently partnered with Postmates, America’s largest last mile delivery network, to launch online grocery deliveries. Starting in Charlotte, North Carolina in spring 2018, the service expanded across the U.S., with plans to cover 40% of American households by the end of the year. The Walmart-Postmates marriage makes it easy to order everything from fruits and vegetables to seafood to bakery items to seasonal general merchandise…combining everyday low prices with optimally fast service.
Walmart isn’t known for fresh fruits and vegetables, and food quality and customer service can vary by store. However, the store’s personal shoppers now undergo a three-week-long training program to choose the freshest produce and meat. Time will tell whether the Postmates partnership will streamline the fulfillment process or complicate the bureaucracy. But if the merger continues to work out smoothly, this could be an industry game-changer – and set the low-price convenience giant an edge above the popular Instacart.
The process is as simple as a visit to the Walmart grocery website or the current Walmart Grocery App, placing an order, and selecting a delivery window at checkout. It deviates from the Instacart model where an independent contractor both shops the grocery order and delivers it personally. Instead, a Walmart personal shopper selects the items and a Postmates Fleet member retrieves the order and bring it to your doorstep.
Even for loyal delivery service customers, there may be times when a pickup would be quicker…if it weren’t for the parking issue or waiting in the checkout line. If your local Walmart is a convenient distance, the site’s Online Grocery Pickup can arrange for a drive to a designated spot for a Walmart associate to place your groceries in your car. Whether this is a convenience for seniors aging in place depends on their mobility issues and convenience to the local store. The pickup option shaves off traffic time and waiting in line, but those who have trouble carrying heavy groceries are on their own once the car exits the parking lot. Happily, there is no required annual fee with Walmart. Customers can review the delivery window times to determine whether delivery or pickup is the most convenient on a given day.
Delivery fees vary depending on the time slot booked, but same-day delivery comes with a $10 fee. The $30 minimum order is the lowest of online delivery service providers. There are much fewer add-on costs than with third-party competitors, and Walmart’s “Always Low Prices” slogan applies to its click-and-mortar delivery option.
Unlike companies like Instacart, Walmart-Postmates drivers can only be tipped with cash rather than with a percentage structure added to a credit card charge. While the optional tipping is a cost savings, some consumers may feel that discretionary, systematic tipping better ensures good service. Walmart website’s customer service pages are user-friendly for troubleshooting.
This makes Walmart the clear winner for low pricing, clear pricing, and the “What You See Is What You Get” category.
Features & Specs
- Only offered in the Northeast US
- Food comes straight from FreshDirect – there is no middle man grocer
- Users can shop by dietary needs, including kosher, gluten-free, and organic
- Subscription fee is required on top of delivery fees for each order
- Offers their own coupons and sales for customers
- An excellent option for entertaining or ordering mass quantities
- Easy to shop for special diets
- High quality produce
- Limited service area
- Random website glitches when creating an account
- Difficulty reading product labels in their entirety
- Search options make it easy to miss available items
- Unlike some competitors, offers few household products or drugstore items
New York-based FreshDirect is the oldest player in the game, having debuted 19 years ago in the Northeast. While it has been mostly regional in its formative years, it now covers other major American cities. Perusing the website in a day takes you through an array of 98 dairy-free products, 536 vegan products, 595 kosher items, 463 “organic and all-natural” offerings, and 1285 gluten-free foods. And while the “FreshDirect” name connotes fresh produce, the store’s comprehensive inventory includes wine, spirits, household and beauty products, baby needs, and pet supplies.
FreshDirect offers dozens of excellent meal kits for beginning cooks with thoughtful wine pairings and easy-to-understand nutritional information. Best of all, there is an extensive array of gourmet delicacies from sliced-to-order salmon to bialys. You’ll find party platters, food “bundles,” and holiday spreads for everything from Fourth of July to Rosh Hashanah.
FreshDirect is proud to have “pioneered the short supply chain” so its customers can experience the freshest deliveries possible. Food comes to the fulfillment center straight from the source and is delivered at peak freshness within days. Fresh Direct aficionados praise the prepared meals, frequent deals on popular items, and its high-quality, mostly organic, produce.
In fact, the company’s produce, seafood, and meat has even been considered better than Whole Foods. This may make FreshDirect more cost-effective than Instacart and Amazon for Whole Foods fans in the Northeastern U.S. A small health and beauty department which enables New Yorkers to order aspirin or ibuprofen – not available in New York supermarkets – along with their foodstuffs.
The company boasts an extensive array of prepared vegetarian meals, although vegans may not feel certain that those options are free of egg or dairy products. While there is a wide variety of vegan prepared and frozen foods, finding vegan meals on the site takes more maneuvering than most new customers would want to tinker around with. Nevertheless, it can be done by searching under a “Shop By” heading and subheading: Entertaining, Family Size, Kid Friendly, Sale, or Under 500 Calories and secondarily by “Show Me Only” categories: Low Sodium, Under 500 Calories, and Vegan.
There are only six “nut-free” products in the current inventory. All FreshDirect products are labeled in accordance with the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which requires that food product labels containing the eight major allergens be declared clearly and in plain English. That said, reading the fine print on product close-ups takes considerable effort on FreshDirect’s website compared with Instacart, which is more user-friendly in this regard.
Kosher consumers will likely find that FreshDirect is the service to beat. As consumers who keep kosher also experience time crunches on Friday afternoon before the Jewish Sabbath or holidays, this is an easy way to take care of their festive meal needs in a hurry. Likewise, it is easy to see how seniors from all walks of life can make FreshDirect their premium one-stop-shop for entertaining family and friends without leaving their homes or carrying a thing.
The minimum order for home deliveries is $30 for most areas. The only odd exception is the Hamptons on Long Island, which has a minimum of $99. A subscription is required for any Fresh Direct order, with $79 for a 6-month Delivery Pass and $129 for an annual commitment. The delivery fee depends on the area and ranges from $5.99 to $15.99. Like Instacart, it is easy to access coupons and sales. Customer Support tends to investigate issues and award credits off order problems and has friendly, well-trained staff who try hard to keep consumers happy.
The company’s website interface is arguably the cleanest of its competitors, and it is easy to order specific fruits and vegetables. With FreshDirect, there may be a reason you can’t eat like a king every day – but your dietary restriction isn’t one of them.
Features & Specs
- Annual subscription is $100 or $15 per month
- Delivery fees are free with purchases over $35
- Upcharge on items vs in-store prices
- Recently acquired by Target
- Offers same-day delivery
- Perfect for people want Instacart’s services on a smaller budget and who want more control over the whole buying and delivery process
- Ease of communication with shopper
- Annual membership fees are among the lowest in the industry
- Orders can be changed
- Consistently high product quality
- Limited service area, although
- On rare occasions, the total cost can add up higher than with other companies
Shipt is a company that puts care into everything it does. Now covering over 30 states, this Birmingham-based rising star can easily be counted among the cheapest delivery options that you can find. Founded in 2014, it delivers from the likes of Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, Meijer, Winn-Dixie, H-E-B, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, and its new parent company, Target.
As with Instacart, the Shipt app makes it easy to browse items in different categories and there is a search field if you’re looking for something specific. It is also easy to request specific items not in the app. Also in the app is a streamlined messaging system maintain communication while shopping, and the customer receives the messages as text messages.
The company’s annual fees are among the lowest in the business at $99 per year. Delivery fees are waived with purchases over $35, unlike some services that require $40, and monthly fees are currently $15. Be aware that prices are higher on the company app than in-store. There is a small upcharge on each project, though making the overall cost cheaper than gas for many drivers. And after its acquisition by Target in late 2017, the long-term effects on pricing and service remain to be seen.
But there’s no denying that Shipt’s expansion has made it a game-changer for fans of Whole Foods produce. Comparative pricing makes it more cost-effective than Instacart and AmazonFresh, both of which partner with Whole Foods. What’s more, they really offer excellent service that’s not usual for larger businesses
Why Try Grocery Delivery?
Grocery delivery allows you to choose all your favorites and get them sent to your home without having to go out and pick them up yourself. If you’re a senior suffering from limited mobility or can’t carry groceries on your own, these services take care of all of that for you so all you need to do is make your choices online or via a smartphone app.
Services vary in the features they offer, so pay attention to whether you might need same-day delivery or the option to order in advance. You may also be able to choose whether you need to be home or not in order to receive the groceries.
Often times, as we lose our mobility we turn to ordering take out or other options that eliminate the need to cook or leave the home. With grocery delivery, however, you get to choose fresh, healthy options. Even if you don’t cook, the prepared meals you’re able to pick up at the grocery store can still be much healthier portions than what you would find at a restaurant.
While these services will all be more expensive than grocery shopping on your own, many are still cheaper than eating out or getting restaurant takeout. They offer a happy medium to being cheaper and healthier than going out to eat, but still offer all the convenience of not having to cook or leave your home.
The Bottom Line
While grocery delivery was common 50 years ago and still offered directly by supermarkets in cities like New York, the online grocery delivery business model is still new. Several companies are going through growing pains. While corporate acquisitions have streamlined services in many cases, the pricing structures may change with the times. And with regional grocers like Kroger getting into the game in August 2018 with its own services, competition can be a good thing…and give third-party online services a run for their money.
Ultimately, the common denominators will be your geographic area and your specific grocery needs. All this suggests a bit of caution in making a long-term commitment to an online grocery. Carefully examine annual or monthly subscription fees and keep an eye out for new competitors expanding into your area.
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