Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Exploring Grocery Pick Up Options

I am an in person shopper for most things. There are some things that I always buy that I am comfortable ordering online through Amazon or have used Target pick up for but otherwise, I am inclined to head to the store for most things. During these unprecedented times though, I have turned to online ordering for pick up at store. Some of my learnings may not apply to normal times but still are included below.

Giant Eagle - I know that normally you don't have to book over a week out but that is the current norm...if you can even find a pick-up time. As such, my pick up this week from Curbside Express may be a one and done scenario. I loved that I was able to update my order once placed until about 24 hours before pick up. This was nice because I was able to reserve my spot a week out and then add to the order based on what we needed and the current sale deals.

I was disappointed that you can't rely on their online status once order is completed. There were several things (not surprisingly) cut from my order that were either missing from the order summary and others that said unavailable. When I saw those cuts, I used the information to head to another store on the way to fill the gaps. Only, when I got to Giant Eagle to pick up my order, they had in fact filled many of those things with substitutions.

I recognize that currently stock is limited and they are doing their best with substitutions but I learned that I need to be much more specific in my notes and/or simply don't allow substitutions. Unfortunately, their choice is allow substitutions or don't, and they offer a spot for notes regarding the item on your list. They don't seem to use the notes for your substitution - at least not in the one that I put a note about what to substitute. They do however review the substitutes and allow you to decline items, so that was good. As an example, I had ordered 3 x approx 1# packages of boneless, skinless chicken breast from their current sale. They were out and the swap was two value packs, each just under 3#. Unfortunately, they couldn't honor the discounted $/# pricing on the larger packs - not sure if that is typical or due to the current situation. I know that in the past, I have been able to have them honor the sale price and/or repack to smaller counts for me, when I was shopping in store.

During this time, I was appreciative not to have to spend the time in store but some things were things I wouldn't have skipped when the item I wanted wasn't in and should have said no substitutes. The produce selection was okay. The tomatoes were softer than I would have bought but not bruised, the red peppers were too heavy for their size but still sweet and the avocado was not as firm as I prefer. The meat that I ordered looked good. The expiration dates were good. All in all, they did okay with the shopping.

Giant Eagle offers Curbside Express free with a $35 order (at my location, since it says varies). I would be most inclined to use it when I need a couple of items and don't want the hassle of running in the store but that is not an option.

Acme Fresh Market - Acme I was very lucky and able to get an appointment for pick up within 2 days of placing my order. The first day I scheduled, only 2 of the items on my list were available. They called me before completing the order and I was able to cancel the order and then copy it into a new order for pick up on a different day. The shopper who called was even able to check the schedule to see when the next truck was coming in and I was most likely to find more items in stock.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way in the system to change the order once submitted. This was disappointing because there were things I would have liked to add or update after placing my order.

Their substitution approach was more comprehensive. Their drop down allowed you to select whether to up count or to change brands or flavors or no substitution and they also allowed you to choose a substitution from a recommended list. I only got one substituted item on my list but it followed my request.

When I did my pick up they had about 1/2 of what I ordered. I did not get a call that time.

Acme typically has a nominal fee for picking up an order, so I could use it for a small order but if I want to maximize the value probably wouldn't.

Target - As I said, I have used their drive up and/or pick up for items in the past. The biggest issue that I have is that it is not offered for several items, including dairy, frozen, produce or bread and (I know because we tried to order them for pick up) windshield wipers. Aside from some limitations on the selection that qualifies, it is great and during normal times your order is typically ready to pick up in less than 4 hours. I have used it get ingredients for baking, soup and medicine in the past.

Most of the time, their app is accurate on inventory but I did have an item cut from my order that had shown in stock and was likely purchased between my order being submitted and shopped. This past week, I used it to get Gatorade and shop ahead for Easter treats (since I'm not sure when we will have the chance to get treats for the baskets). The drive up process is super easy and once you tell them you are coming, if you leave the app open it knows when you arrive and alerts them. The order was out within a couple minutes of my pulling up.

What has been your experience with online ordering groceries for pick up? What is your favorite thing about shopping that way?