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A growing number of folks are turning to grocery delivery services and apps to help fill their fridges and stock their pantries. As demand has soared, myriad services have cropped up.
Each grocery delivery service has its own focus, ranging from startups that curate hyper-local and specialty products to broader-reaching companies that boast an array of nationally recognized brands. Continue reading for the best grocery delivery services that are widely available throughout the United States.
Best Grocery Delivery Services of 2021
Why We Chose It: Imperfect Foods' mission to build a better, less wasteful food system, along with its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, help make it easier for consumers to do so.
Focuses on sustainable and fair trade goods
Unusual produce offerings
Concern for environmental impact
No mobile app
Inventory availability changes often
Inventory varies by location
Imperfect Foods sources cosmetically quirky, irregularly sized, surplus produce, along with other high-quality products that for various reasons might otherwise languish on traditional grocery store shelves. In addition to house-brand products, Imperfect also offers a solid selection of brand-name foods from companies such as Tillamook, Impossible Burger, Miyoko’s, and Hodo Soy. If you don't mind if a bell pepper is a slightly wonky shape or if your lemons are a bit smaller than those you'd find in a store, this is the service for you.
No subscription is required and there are no service fees. Instead, shoppers can choose between three types of boxes. The Regular Box features conventional produce, while the Organic Box offers organic produce. Both boxes can be customized to include other grocery items, and are available in four sizes: small (starting at $11-$13 for regular; $15-$17 for organic), medium (starting at $14-$16 for regular; $22-$24 for organic), large (starting at $20-$22 for regular; $33-$35 for organic), and extra-large (starting at $25-$27 for regular; $39-$43 for organic). If you only want produce, an All Fruit Box or All Veggie Box is available in small (starting at $11-$13) and medium (starting at $14-$16).
When you sign up for the service, you share your preferences to create your grocery order. Deliveries are made on a weekly or biweekly basis, and delivery fees range from $4.99 to $8.99. Shopping and delivery windows are assigned, which can feel a bit frustrating, but since Imperfect’s system is designed to reduce carbon emissions and food waste, it's hard to be too annoyed. Though the service is not yet available nationwide, its extensive reach (as of April 2021) includes the West Coast, Midwest, much of the East Coast, and the West South Central Region (Texas and Louisiana).
Why We Chose It: Grocery delivery apps can often feel clunky and challenging to navigate, but Shipt’s is sleek, intuitive, and easy to use.
24/7 customer service support
Snappy and user-friendly interface
Not as many store options as other services
Delivery fee for alcohol
In terms of shopping experience, Shipt feels very similar to Instacart. You can order groceries from a variety of local and chain stores, such as Costco, Winn Dixie, Publix, Kroeger, Target, Vons, and CVS via Shipt’s website or its app (available for iOS and Android). You can schedule deliveries as soon as one hour after placing your order, and shoppers are available anytime a store is open.
Unlike its competitors, Shipt requires a membership fee ($99 per year or $14 per month), but there are fewer fees to have to navigate. There’s also no minimum for orders. Orders over $35 have free delivery, and orders under $35 carry a $7 delivery fee. In areas where alcohol delivery is available, there may be a $7 delivery fee. Shipt is also available in fewer cities than Instacart (it's available in more than 260 cities in the contiguous United States as of April 2021), and its selection of stores does seem to be slightly less extensive.
Shipt also offers excellent 24/7 customer service support; you can contact the help team by email, phone, or live chat.
Why We Chose It: With Walmart’s Express delivery option, there’s no order minimum.
Good for ordering more than groceries
No membership required for basic service
The app feels busy and jumbled
There’s no membership required to order grocery delivery from this popular American superstore chain, which has thousands of stores nationwide. As to be expected with the value-focused behemoth, prices are low. Delivery is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and fees range by time slot ($7.95–$9.95). The minimum order required is $35, however with the express delivery option (two hours or less), there’s no order minimum, making it a good option for placing smaller orders. Keep in mind that express delivery does cost $10 on top of any existing delivery charges.
Walmart also offers a membership model for $12.95 per month or $98 per year that includes free delivery (for both groceries and other items), members-only time slots, and other perks. If you want to try the service before committing, there’s a 15-day free trial.
For folks who are newer to ordering via a grocery delivery service, Walmart has an easy-to-follow new customer onboarding video tutorial on its website. You can also use the app (available for iOS and Android) to order non-grocery items like household furniture and electronics.
Why We Chose It: Instacart consistently offers an excellent range of delivery windows, including the option to schedule an order for delivery within two hours.
No membership required for basic service
Wide availability of stores
Senior support service for customers over age 60
Busy pricing and other fees
$10 order minimum
Like its main competitor Shipt, Instacart empowers shoppers to order groceries from their favorite stores. Instacart is available in all 50 states, offering access to retailers like Safeway, Costco, Sprouts, FoodsCo, Lucky, Target, and BevMo. In some areas, you can even get prescriptions delivered. No membership is required to use the basic delivery service. Delivery times are subject to store hours. Delivery fees start at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. Service fees vary and are subject to change based on factors like location and the number and types of items in your cart. Alcohol orders also have a separate service fee.
If you want lower service fees and free delivery for orders of $35, consider an Instacart Express membership ($9.99 per month or $99 per year). For both the standard delivery and Instacart Express, there’s a $10 order minimum for delivery.
Instacart’s website and app, available for IOS and Android, are easy to use. In the U.S. and Canada, Insacart also offers special support for customers over the age of 60. This dedicated Senior Support Line specializes in helping older customers set up accounts and place orders. The service is available daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.
Why We Chose It: When it comes to bang for your buck, Amazon Prime is heads above the rest. In addition to grocery delivery, membership gives you access to tons of other perks, including Amazon's entertainment and digital services.
Big buying power means big savings
Wide variety of products
Prime membership perks
Amazon Fresh not available everywhere
The buying power of this online shopping giant also means tons of brand variety and lower prices. You’ll also find plenty of weekly deals and coupons in the “Fresh Deals” section on the website and app. At $119 per year ($12.99 per month), Prime membership is on the pricier side; however, not only does it include grocery delivery, but there are loads of other perks as well, including access to its streaming, entertainment, and digital services, as well as free shipping benefits and other deals.
With Prime, local delivery on orders over $35 (in most areas) is free and takes about two hours or less. If there’s a Whole Foods in your area, there’s also the option to shop and pick up directly from the Amazon-owned grocery store. Just keep in mind that Amazon Fresh isn't available everywhere.
Why We Chose It: In addition to having a robust and informative FAQ section, Thrive Market goes above and beyond the usual customer service setup by offering free 15-minute phone market guide consultations with one of their product specialists.
Ethical and sustainable sourcing
Gives back to those in need
No ordering minimums or limits
Longer delivery times
Alcohol orders may be shipped separately
Membership-driven grocery delivery services may not be for everyone, but what's especially nice about Thrive Market is that its customer service goes above and beyond by offering free, 15-minute phone market guide consultations with product specialists. Memberships cost $59.95 per year or $9.95 per month, and there are no order limits or frequency requirements. Shipping is free on orders over $49; orders less than that will cost $5.95. Most orders are delivered within two to five days of purchase.
Thrive rigorously vets thousands of products to make sure they align as much as possible with the company’s values (Non-GMO, USDA Certified Organic, and environmentally friendly). Using Thrive’s website or app (available for IOS and Android), you can easily personalize your shopping experience according to dietary or ethical concerns (vegan, ketogenic, organic, paleo, soy-free, etc.). The company also claims that customers save 25 percent to 50 percent off retail pricing and offers a savings guarantee: If you don’t make back your annual membership fee in savings by the end of the membership year, the company will give you the difference in credits for use at the market when you renew.
Although Thrive doesn’t accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payments, for every annual membership purchased, the company donates a membership to a family in need.
Why We Chose It: Dumpling has access to more stores than other services in the field, including Trader Joe’s.
Access to stores not always available at competitors
App and website feel a bit bare-bones and clunky
Can be hard to find the best shopper for you
Dumpling was created in response to the equity issues facing gig economy workers, and the mission-driven startup is striving to empower folks who want to break away from the gig system. Each personal shopper is their own small business, so they are in charge of setting their own shopping and delivery fees. All of the money from your tip goes to the shopper.
Dumpling is still getting its footing in the market, but the ability to form a relationship with a personal shopper creates the opportunity for a truly bespoke grocery delivery experience. On the app (available for iOS and Android), shoppers list the stores they shop at, their availability, as well as customer ratings. In terms of markets, you’ll find the usual suspects such as Target, Whole Foods, Ralphs, and Lucky. However, since this is a more personalized service, there are stores that might not be available via other grocery delivery services. Want a Trader Joe’s specialist? Dumpling’s got you covered.
The service is available in a number of cities across the U.S., including Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Miami, Seattle, and New Orleans.
Choosing a grocery delivery service all comes down to personal preference. Are you willing to shell out extra money for a monthly or annual membership, or would you rather just pay as you go? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. We recommend starting with Imperfect Foods because of its mission-driven approach as well as the growing number of grocery options it carries.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Grocery Delivery Services Work?
Instead of going to the store, customers order products online or via a grocery delivery app. Depending on the service, personal shoppers or fulfillment centers assemble your orders, which are then delivered (or shipped) to your doorstep.
How Much Does It Cost to Use a Grocery Delivery Service?
Grocery delivery services vary in price depending on the company. Some, like Thrive Market and Shipt, have membership fees. Others like Instacart include various service fees and delivery fees, on top of the cost of purchased products. Many delivery services that use personal shoppers also allow you to include a tip.
Can You Use EBT for Grocery Delivery Services?
Thrive Market, Dumpling, and Shipt do not allow payment with EBT. While Imperfect Foods doesn’t accept EBT, the company does offer a Reduced Cost Box Program to those who apply. Some grocery delivery services such as Amazon and Walmart are part of a pilot program run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP EBT online. Instacart, while not directly a part of the program, also allows customers to pay for online orders from stores participating in the program.
How Do I Choose the Best Grocery Delivery Service?
There are so many different kinds of grocery delivery services that it’s fairly easy to find one that fits your needs. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you prioritize: brand names, low prices, personal shopping experience, and more. The companies on our list cover the spectrum of options.
We researched a dozen different grocery services and judged them based on delivery area, product variety and/or store availability, and user-friendliness of their websites and apps (when available). Ultimately, we aimed to include services that work for the widest range of shoppers in as large a footprint as possible.