Comparing grocery delivery services: When is it worth it and which store has the best price?

Colorado grocery shoppers no longer have to trudge into the stores to pick up their weekly groceries.  There are several grocery delivery options available to help alleviate the weekly burden of grocery shopping.   

King Soopers offers two grocery delivery options and a grocery pick-up option where you place your order online and pick it up at a scheduled time from your local store.  King Soopers HomeShop offers traditional grocery delivery where you get anything that a King Soopers store carries delivered to your door for a flat rate of $10.95 per order.  King Soopers honors all advertised sale prices in their delivery, including their mega event pricing when you buy the min required promotional items.    They also accept coupons with the grocery delivery.  Their grocery delivery site was really easy to navigate although it’s still a little antiquated compared to their Live Naturally site and the other grocery delivery options in Colorado. 

King Soopers also recently launched a new natural and organics delivery service called Live Naturally.   This site is really nice to shop because you can search for specialty items that may not be carried at King Soopers stores, but can be found online and you can search and sort based on various filters such as, vegan, gluten free, paleo and organic.  The products available through Live Naturally are organic pantry staples, home care and health and beauty items.  Fresh produce, meat and seafood are not available through Live Naturally.  The cost is free delivery for any purchase over $35.   

King Soopers grocery pick-up is a popular option for those who don’t want to pay the delivery fee and don’t want to do their own shopping.  King Soopers has even retrofitted several local stores to accommodate the new grocery pick-up model, complete with special parking spaces in the parking lots fitted with intercoms so that you can let them know you’ve arrived and are ready to receive your order.  The King Soopers representative simply walks your items to your car and helps you load into your car.  Grocery pick up is available at four King Soopers locations currently – Bear Valley, Highlands Ranch, Southeast Denver and Greenwood Village.  The cost for grocery pick-up is $4.95.   

Walmart offers both grocery delivery and store pick-up as well.  You can order anything that is carried at a Walmart store and schedule a time to have your items delivered.  The nice thing about Walmart delivery is that their system shows you the next time a delivery truck will be in your area, so you can piggy back on that delivery for a fraction of the delivery cost.  Walmart does not accept coupons for grocery delivery, but you can take advantage of sale or roll-back pricing.  The delivery cost ranges from $3.00 - $9.00 depending on the time of day and location and whether there is another delivery scheduled in your area.  Grocery pick-up from Walmart is free.  The Walmart grocery delivery site is extremely user friendly and you can even save favorites or items you buy frequently to shave off a little time for your next order. 

Lisa Colehour, mom of two from Lakewood, Colorado says she regularly uses Walmart grocery delivery.  It forces her to stick to a list and she feels like she is saving money because she can’t spontaneous pick up anything else she wouldn’t normally buy.  She felt that the produce was picked as she would have picked it and the only issue she experienced the first few times was certain items were out of stock and therefore not delivered.  There is an option to ask for substitutions, but for the organic milk she ordered, a substitute was not available, so it just wasn’t delivered.  The biggest advantages to her were not taking her children into the store, ordering her groceries at 10 pm and having them delivered the next day, and she saved money by getting only her list items. 

Instacart launched their grocery delivery service in Denver in the fall of 2014.  Instacart offers grocery delivery for Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, King Soopers, Safeway and Costco.  The delivery for Instacart is $3.99 - $9.99 depending on your minimum order and delivery time.  Insacart also has a built in tip calculator and asks for a tip for the shopper, which can add an extra 10-20% on your purchase if you choose to tip.  The selection was good, however I did have to make several substitutions as it was not an all inclusive product selection for the King Soopers store that I was trying to shop.   Instacart delivery is presently only available in the Denver metro area. 

The Whole Foods and Natural Grocers prices are the same as the in-store prices, however the other stores prices are not reflective of in-store prices or promotions.   

The pricing for the other stores was actually quite a bit higher than what you would pay if you went to the store yourself.   For example, a box of Honey Nut Cheerios 21 oz costs $10.59 on Instacart for King Soopers compared to the market average of $4.61 across all other Colorado stores.   

Door to Door Organics has been offering produce boxes and other organic and natural groceries to Colorado households for several years.  A bitty box starts at $25.99 and you get to choose seasonal organic fresh fruits and veggies to be delivered every week, or every other week.     

You can add a variety of organic pantry staples to your produce box order every week, but you can’t just get the pantry staples without the produce box.  The package is delivered with an ice pack, but if you are not going to be home for the delivery, they recommend you leave a cooler outside your front door so that the produce does not spoil.   

I used it and found the produce to be fresh and I liked the fact that I was supporting local farmers through my purchase.  Door to door organics also offers recipes and meal planning options on their site based on the produce box that is being delivered each week.   

Amazon Prime Pantry offers grocery delivery of pantry staples, household items, cleaning supplies and health and beauty items.  No fresh food or anything in a glass container is available through Amazon Prime Pantry.  The delivery cost is $5.99 per box (4 cubic feet or 45 lbs) on top of your Amazon Prime membership, which runs $99 each year.  The site is extremely user friendly, but I found the selection wasn’t all-inclusive.  I had to make several substitutions for my shopping list and several items like Olive Oil were not available at all.  Delivery can take up to 4 days, so its good to keep this in mind if you need something right away. 

Target does not offer grocery delivery in Colorado yet, although they are trialing delivery through Instacart in Minneapolis.  However, you can order household products, cleaning supplies, and pet food to be delivered.  Target also offers a free store pick-up option.  Simply create your list of pantry staples, household items and non-perishable foods on Target.com and they will call you when your order is ready to be picked up from the customer service desk.  You cannot order any meat, produce or refrigerated items from Target.com, but if you have a shopping list of nonperishables and want someone else to shop it for you, Target is a free option.

How do the prices compare?

I placed an order of 15 non-perishable items from King Soopers, Target, Walmart, Instacart (from King Soopers) and Amazon Prime Pantry to compare prices including delivery fee. 

 

Here’s what was on my list: 

  • Cheerios 12 oz.
  • Bounty Paper Towels 6 ct
  • Finish Powerball tablets 60 ct
  • Starkist Albacore Tuna Pouch 2.6 oz. 
  • Barilla Pasta 12 oz. 
  • Classico Pasta Sauce 26 oz. 
  • Tide Detergent 100 oz. 
  • Gatorade 8 pack, 20 oz. bottles 
  • Cottonelle Toilet Paper 12 rolls 
  • Tostitos Lime Chips 13 oz. 
  • Swanson Broth 32 oz. 
  • Caress Body Wash 
  • Starbucks Coffee 12 oz. 
  • Glad trash Bags 40 ct
  • Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice 2 lb. bag 

Price comparison of 15 items from grocery delivery options in Colorado 

Walmart was the cheapest option for grocery delivery and pick-up, with a total of $81.59 for delivery and $88.59 for pick-up.  Amazon Prime Pantry was 2nd for pure grocery delivery of non-perishables, even with a delivery fee of $11.98, the total was $87.69.   King Soopers Homeshop would cost me $96.12 for delivery and $90.12 for pick-up, followed by Instacart who cost $134.51, or 30% more than just ordering from King Soopers directly.   

Is grocery delivery worth it?   

You have to determine the cost of convenience and time savings to your personal household.  If you annualize a weekly delivery from Walmart you could spend an extra $156 - $468 depending on if you can be flexible on your delivery time to get the cheapest $3.00 delivery fee.  If you annualize a weekly King Soopers delivery – you are looking to spend an extra $569 a year, or if you choose the pick-up option, no extra cost from Walmart or Target, but $257 annually from King Soopers. 

I personally think it’s a super convenient service, worth the extra few bucks and I expect it will continue to grow.  I think pick-up will be a more popular choice for many as they don’t have to wait for a two hour delivery window. 

Eva Fry is a local grocery pricing and savings expert.  She manages a free grocery price comparison app uGrocery and grocery sale and coupon match-up site ikonomo.com.  Consumers can create their own shopping lists for comparison with a free ikonomo or uGrocery account. 

 

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