News: Grocery Delivery & Pickup Apps You Should Be Using During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Grocery Delivery & Pickup Apps You Should Be Using During the Coronavirus Lockdown

As government officials scramble to contain the new coronavirus outbreak with bans on large gatherings, travel restrictions, and school closures, the rest of us have to worry about how we're going to safely purchase water, toilet paper, groceries, and other household goods during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Although stores are still open (for now), that doesn't necessarily make a brick-and-mortar shop the best place to purchase essentials, seeing as they're usually filled with dozens if not hundreds of people at a time. That puts you at a higher risk of contracting or spreading the new coronavirus.

Instead of physically going into a grocery store, there are many services on your iPhone or Android phone that you can use to purchase what you need remotely and get it delivered to your door — without exposing yourself to too many other people. Just note that demand is high on these services because of stay-at-home orders everywhere, so you may not be able to get same-day service.

If getting groceries delivered, you can ask the delivery person to just leave the groceries at the door, then wait for them to leave. You can then get and unload your items and wipe them down with disinfectant or soap and water if you want to be extra careful before putting them away. If you don't want to pay certain delivery fees or tips, some let you pick up your groceries at the store with curbside pickup.

Quick List of Online Grocers

The following services offer both delivery and pickup options, depending on your needs. If you don't want to leave your house for any reason to grab your groceries, check out the next list for services that are exclusively home delivery.

The ones with asterisks (*) are described in more detail in the app sections below. The ones with a number sign (#) are services that work with multiple local grocers, not just one, and may be your best chance for ordering from smaller shops. If it's a service without one of those symbols next to it and you've never heard of it before, it's a good chance the grocery store is not in your area.

Home Delivery & Pickup

Just Home Delivery

Our Favorite Online Grocery Services

We chose to highlight the five grocery delivery apps below because they're the best of the bunch, whether it's because it's highly accessible to millions of people (Amazon Fresh), dedicated to bringing you organic, non-GMO products (Thrive Market), or allows you to purchase all of your favorite groceries in bulk (Boxed).

App 1: Amazon Fresh (Best Overall)

One of the best and most popular options for grocery deliveries has to be Amazon Fresh, one of three Amazon subdivisions that delivers groceries (Amazon Prime Now and Prime Pantry being the others) in cities all across the United States, including Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Miami, New Orleans, Portland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and more. Although there isn't a dedicated mobile app, you can use Amazon Fresh within the regular Amazon app.

Why is Amazon Fresh such a great option? For starters, it's included in your paid Amazon Prime subscription (which can range from $12.99 per month or $6.49 a month for students). Second, shipping for your groceries is free as long as your order is $35 or more before tax. Anything less than $35, and you'll pay a minor $4.99 delivery fee. Third, Amazon Fresh allows you to purchase grocery items from a myriad of grocery stores, including Whole Foods Market, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Bristol Farms, and additional items from local Amazon fulfillment centers. Last, you can get your food and essentials in as quick as an hour.

Amazon Fresh also offers thousands of other items aside from groceries, such as household items, electronics, and even local restaurant dishes. Once you place an order, you can track the driver in real time. Enter your zip code here to see if Amazon Fresh can deliver to you.

App 2: Instacart (Best for Flexibility)

Available in hundreds of cities across the US, Instacart is another online delivery service you can use to order groceries from local stores and have them delivered to your door, in as little as an hour, for a low or even no delivery fee. You can search for thousands of products on Instacart, from grocery stores like Stater Brothers, Target, Aldi, Ralphs, Sprouts, Costco, CVS, Albertsons, Vons, Tops, and more.

In minutes, you can search for the groceries (or other household items) you want, add them to your basket, and then place your order. An employee from Instacart goes out and picks the items up and then delivers the groceries to your home (the same day if you live in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Chicago, Austin, Washington D.C, Houston, Atlanta, etc.). If you need to make any changes to your order, you can track and communicate with your personal shopper.

Fees range on Instacart, depending on where you're ordering from and how fast you want your groceries. For example, you can get items from Target in 2 hours for as low as $3.99, but the price can go up if there is a sudden high demand (called busy pricing), sort of like an Uber surge. However, if you sign up for Instacart Express ($9.99 per month or $99 a year), you can get unlimited free delivery on orders of $35, reduced service fees, and no busy pricing.

App 3: Thrive Market (Best for Health)

Thrive Market differs from the other online delivery services on this list because it focuses solely on high-quality organic, non-GMO products that are discounted from their regular retail prices. You can shop by diet (keto, paleo, gluten-free, etc.) or aisle (snacks, baking, beverages, skincare, etc.), as well as discounted products, best sellers, and brands to discover.

  • Install Thrive Market: Android (free) | iOS (free)

According to its website, you save an average of $26 per order and $312 per year with its savings, thanks to daily and weekly deals and Thrive Cash; the latter is a cash-back feature that you can use for credit on your next order. Plus, the more you spend, the more you're rewarded. If you spend over a certain amount (for example, $59), you can claim free items such as organic almond butter.

The annual membership to Thrive is $59.95, but they claim that if you don't save at least $60 in a year, you'll receive the difference in credit at the end of the year. Although it doesn't have same-day delivery, 85% of orders ship in two days or less, and orders over $49 are shipped free.

App 4: Boxed (Best for Bulk Orders)

Need groceries and other goods but in massive supply? With Boxed, you can order from a curated selection of products, whether you're looking for bananas, avocados, and other perishables or dish soap, paper towels, and sparkling water — all in bulk. It's like Costco, except that Boxed does not have any membership fees.

Using Boxed is simple; you browse through items by best sellers, new, and features. You can also browse through special deals on items, as well as free samples (soda, granola bar, etc.) that can be added to every order you make (limit two per order).

If you're looking to purchase fresh produce, dairy, or deli items, you can use Boxed Express, which is delivered separately from non-perishables, via UPS, in one to three business days. For everything else, you can expect most Boxed deliveries to be delivered within two business days, but it can also take longer than that.

Delivery is free on your first order, as well as any order over $49. If your order is below $49, Boxed charges you $6.99 for shipping, so it isn't a crazy amount. If you are interested in an upgrade to your membership, Boxed offers cash rewards (2% back on every purchase), free shipping on every order, and exclusive discounts — for $49 a year.

App 5: Dumpling (Best for Personalization)

Finally, we have Dumpling, which is the smallest of the grocery delivery apps on this list. Still, it's the only one that allows you to choose not only a personal shopper but also any grocery store in your area (such as a tiny deli or cornerstone in your area) — even if it doesn't show up in the app.

The process is simple: create an account, choose your personal shopper, and then find a store. Under the personal shopper's profile, you'll see the stores it has shopped from before. If you don't see your store, you can type in the store name and the items you need. Even if it's a store that is popular, such as Ralphs, you can write-in any groceries you need that don't show up. The flexibility is something that no other delivery app on this list offers.

However, Dumpling is a bit more costly than the other apps. No matter how many items you purchase, and for whatever cost, you'll always pay $20 in shopping and delivery fees, as well as a 5% platform fee. There are no monthly or yearly membership fees, so Dumpling may the perfect option when you make a grocery delivery purchase once every blue moon, without having to commit to a membership.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Nelson Aguilar/Gadget Hacks

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