JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As many people now know all too well, buying groceries during a pandemic is not easy. Not only are many store shelves empty, but just the thought of heading to a crowded building to buy a carton of eggs or a loaf of bread can be stressful.
One option to avoid the crowds and safely find what you need to feed yourself and your family is to use a grocery delivery service.
While there are several options available, I found Instacart to be the most successful for me.
The process is simple enough. First, you need to create an account with Instacart, unless you already have an account with Facebook or Google. I used my Google account to sign up.
Then, you type in your address for delivery. You can find an array of stores in your area by typing in your zip code. You select the store that you want then begin shopping.
If you browse by category and don't find what you're looking for, I recommend using the search bar to find a specific product. This is helpful because when you specifically type in the brand name or product name it will show up even if it didn't show up before in the generic category's list.
Keep in mind many stores are seeing a shortage in products right now, so I personally split up my grocery shopping between two stores to get all of the ingredients and items I needed. I used Publix to deliver the items I wanted right away since they could deliver within two hours to my particular location and then I used Aldi to deliver the rest of my groceries since they couldn't deliver until Thursday night.
Once you have completed your shopping list and enter in your payment information, a shopper is selected for you.
If you have selected to have your items delivered days later, you can add items you may have forgotten until the shopper begins on the date and time you have chosen.
One mistake I made that delayed my delivery was closing the app once I was notified that my shopper was beginning to retrieve my items. It is of the utmost importance to stay on the website or app once you've been notified that your shopper is starting because they may need to ask you questions.
In the past, I never received messages because all of the products were available, but there are many items they will need to ask you about if they are suddenly not available due to high demand. They will send you a picture message through the "chat" feature showing alternatives or asking if you would like a refund if certain items are not available.
Additionally, you may want to be prepared for last-minute quantity changes due to the current situation with the coronavirus. For example, I ordered four bags of rice, but they only allowed me to check out with two bags of rice at Publix since they were running short. My shopper made sure I was okay with that before she checked out.
You can add specific instructions for how your groceries will be dropped off. If you forget to write that in the instructions, you can message it to your shopper through the "chat" feature.
I personally asked my shopper to ring my doorbell and leave the groceries outside at the foot of my front door so we could avoid contact. That keeps it safer for both the shopper and the customer.
On Wednesday, Instacart addressed health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus. The company issued a press release stating how they are working with national and local authorities "as well as a panel of health and safety experts to actively monitor the situation".
Instacart has rolled out a new "Leave at My Door Delivery" option, which makes the delivery instructions easier by just selecting that option at checkout. The shopper will then send a picture once the items have been left at your door.
They also rolled out new policies to help support their "shoppers" by offering a new sick pay policy and additional extended pay for anyone affected by the coronavirus.
Keep in mind, Instacart is just one of many options. I wanted to share my experience since I received everything I ordered and I felt like the process was easy enough for all ages.
Many grocery stores, like Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart, utilize their own delivery services to help shoppers receive their groceries and household items.
Shipt is another app and website that deliveries groceries similar to Instacart. You should find what works best for you and your area.
If you find any good promos for these apps or helpful tips that you would like to share with others feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.