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Best grocery delivery services in 2020: Instacart vs Walmart Grocery vs Shipt

Best grocery delivery services
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best grocery delivery services are in extremely high demand, while people are still social distancing and staying at home as much as possible. Grocery stores have been considered essential businesses and remained open during the pandemic, but you may be avoiding public outings as much as possible.  

If that's the case, shopping for groceries online is your best choice. And sick people who are quarantining at home can also get the food they need without endangering others. 

If you don’t want to rely entirely on food delivery apps and cook at home, you’ll need the sites on our best grocery delivery services list. They offer fresh produce, meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, prepared foods and meal kits. Others only sell nonperishable, shelf-stable pantry items like pasta, cereal, canned goods and snacks. 

As far as delivery fees and times, they run the gamut. Some offer free delivery with add-on memberships, and most require a minimum order. You can get groceries delivered within an hour in some places or schedule them for the next day or later in the week.

And in light of the coronavirus situation, most of these services are instituting contact-less delivery, so the order will be dropped off outside the door. However, since demand for grocery delivery is so high right now, many of these services are experiencing major delays and have very few delivery slots available. Amazon suspended grocery signups for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods. 

Here are the best grocery delivery services right now.

What are the best grocery delivery services?

Online shopping has become ubiquitous in recent years. Now, people buy everything online: clothes, electronics, furniture, toilet paper and even groceries. The best grocery delivery services offer everything that you can get at the store, but with the convenience of being dropped off at your home. At the top of our list of the best grocery delivery services are Amazon Fresh and Instacart, both of which are widely available across the United States. They operate differently (Amazon Fresh puts together orders in a warehouse, while Instacart uses personal shoppers who go to local stores near you), but both offer a range of goods, from fresh produce to meat and seafood to non-perishables like pasta to cleaning supplies. 

The other options that round out the list of best grocery delivery services have more limitations, whether it’s availability in many locations or the breadth of products they sell. None are exactly cheap when it comes to delivery fees, but convenience comes at a premium. FreshDirect has top-quality organic produce but at higher prices and in only a handful of states. Peapod and Shipt also have limited coverage areas, though they do feature great deals and coupons. The best grocery delivery services will help budget-conscious shoppers find savings. And even if you just want to stock up the pantry, options like Google Shopping and Prime Pantry allow you to do so at just the click of a button.

For anyone looking to replace their regular, weekly in-store grocery shopping experience, Amazon Fresh may be the best choice if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, but Instacart provides targeted access to your favorite store.

The best grocery delivery services right now

Best grocery delivery services: Amazon Fresh

(Image credit: Amazon Fresh)

1. Amazon Fresh

Locations: More than 2,000 cities (check availability); no dorms | Membership required: Yes, included with Amazon Prime ($119 per year) | Shipping fee: Free with minimum order of $35 | Delivery times: As fast as 1 hour | What you can buy: Groceries and non-perishables, including Whole Foods

Free 2-hour delivery
Whole Foods products
Requires Amazon Prime membership

Amazon Fresh is essentially a digital grocery store. It used to be an add-on service but now comes free for Amazon Prime members. The store offers fresh produce, meat, dairy, seafood, packaged foods, Whole Foods 365 products and household goods, such as cleaning supplies. You can even shop for electronics, clothing and toys on Amazon Fresh. The interface is the same as the rest of Amazon, so using it is easy and familiar. Just add items to your cart and then check out.

Amazon Fresh offers free two-hour delivery in most cases if you meet an order minimum (which vary by area). For a fee in some areas, you can get your delivery within the hour. You can also schedule a time in advance. Pickup is available in some cities and is free. Plus, Amazon Fresh offers coupons and deals if you are looking to save on groceries.

Try the Amazon Fresh service now.

Best grocery delivery services: Instacart

(Image credit: Instacart)

2. Instacart

Locations: 40 states, plus Washington, D.C. (check availability) | Membership required: No | Shipping fee: Starting at $3.99 with minimum order of $10; free with Instacart Express ($99 per year or $9.99 per month) with minimum order of $35 | Delivery times: 2 hours to 6 days | What you can buy: Groceries, non-perishables, alcohol from local stores

Shop at your favorite stores
2-hour delivery
Delivery fees can add up

Instacart uses personal shoppers to pick up items for you from local stores. You can even order from Costco and Sam’s Club without needing a membership (though you will pay more than members would in the store). Some areas even allow you to order from liquor stores, pet stores and pharmacies. As you’re shopping, you can indicate substitutes if any items are unavailable. Or you can have the shopper contact you to ask about replacement products. You’ll receive live updates and can track the shopper’s progress on GPS.

If you upgrade to Instacart Express, you get free two-hour delivery on orders over $35 and you can also shop from multiple stores at the same time. Otherwise, you have to pay a fee starting at $3.99, which goes up during busier times of the day and varies by how quickly you want your delivery. Learn more about Instacart promo codes, delivery fees and becoming a shopper.

Try the Instacart service now.

Best grocery delivery services: Walmart Grocery

(Image credit: Walmart)

3. Walmart Grocery

Locations: 1,600 cities (check availability) | Membership required: No | Shipping fee: $7.95 to $9.95, free with Delivery Unlimited ($98 per year or $12.95 per month) | Delivery times: Same day to one week | What you can buy: Groceries, non-perishables, other Walmart products

Low Walmart prices
Access to many types of products
High delivery fees

Walmart Grocery pickup and delivery is available most major cities. Previously, the service allowed you to order from Walmart for same-day pickup. Now, you can have that order delivered to you, also same-day. Walmart Grocery has existed on a separate app from the main Walmart app, but the company plans to merge them soon.

So, what can you buy? Everything from groceries (perishable and nonperishable) to home goods to electronics to beauty products to clothing — anything Walmart sells at low Walmart prices, which is why it's one of the best grocery delivery services. You can get fresh fruit and outdoor gear at the same time! Once you order, you can select an open delivery window up to a week in advance. And if you sign up for the Delivery Unlimited package, shipping is free. Otherwise, the delivery fee starts at $7.95.

Try the Walmart Grocery service now.

Best grocery delivery services: FreshDirect

(Image credit: Fresh Direct)

4. FreshDirect

Locations: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington D.C. (check availability) | Membership required: No | Shipping fee: $5.99-$15.99 with minimum order of $30; free with Delivery Pass ($129 per year, $79 for six months or $39 for six months of midweek deliveries) | Delivery times: Same day to one week | What you can buy: Groceries, non-perishables, alcohol in some areas

High-quality groceries
Prepared meals and meal kits
Limited coverage area

FreshDirect is limited to a handful of Northeast states and offers those areas high-quality produce, meat, seafood, cheese, baked goods and pantry staples. They also make their own brand of meal kits and prepared meals — you could buy an entire Thanksgiving meal, as an example. You can also buy farmshare boxes, fresh flowers, household goods, personal care items and alcohol in some areas. Because their goods are top-notch (and often organic), their prices reflect that so you may experience some sticker shock.

If you’re in New York City, you can also use their sister grocery delivery service, Food Kick, which offers same-day shipping. And in the summers, FreshDirect expands its coverage zone to the Jersey Shore and Hamptons. Their fees are high, depending on the specific area, as is the monthly and yearly passes. But if you want quality groceries, you have to pay for them.

Try the FreshDirect service now

Best grocery delivery services: Peapod

(Image credit: Peapod)

4. Peapod

Locations: New England and mid-Atlantic states (check availability) | Membership required: No | Shipping fee: Varies by order total; free with PodPass ($119 per year, $49 for three months, $69 for six months) with minimum order of $100 | Delivery times: Next day to two weeks | What you can buy: Groceries, non-perishables

Great sign-up deal
Double coupons
Limited coverage area

Peapod is one of the first of the best grocery delivery services, though it’s not in many regions right now. They recently pulled out of the Midwest and the Washington D.C. area. Peapod offers all the standard groceries like fresh vegetables and fruit, meat, dairy and pantry staples but also their own brand of meal kits. There’s decent savings to be had, too: They double manufacturers’ coupons up to $0.99. Be sure to sign up for their emails, which also tout special deals.

When you first sign up for Peapod, you can save $20 off your first order and get 60 days of free delivery with the promo code 60DAYSFREE. After that, you can get free delivery with PodPass, but only by ordering over $100. Otherwise, the delivery fee varies by your order total and the day and time you select.

Try the Peapod service now

Best grocery delivery services: Google Shopping

(Image credit: Google)

5. Google Shopping

Locations: Everywhere (check availability) | Membership required: No | Shipping fee: Free with minimum order of $25 or $35, depending on store | Delivery times: Varies, depending on store (some offer same-day) | What you can buy: Non-perishables from a variety of retailers

Shop at favorite stores
Free delivery with minimum order
No groceries

Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Express, offers mostly non-perishable items from a variety of stores, including Target. Think Prime Pantry crossed with Instacart (but without the personal shopper). Again, if you order from a membership-exclusive store like Costco, you will pay a premium price that is more than members would pay. Depending on the store, if you meet the order minimum, you get free shipping. 

The delivery windows also depend on the store; some offer same-day shipping from Fedex and UPS, but you’re more likely to receive your items the next day or in several business days. As to what you can buy, you can shop the standard pantry staples like baking ingredients, pasta, beverages, canned vegetables and fruits, snacks and condiments. In some areas, you can buy non-refrigerated vegetables and fruit and fresh flowers.

Try the Google Shopping service now

Best grocery delivery services: Shipt

(Image credit: Shipt)

6. Shipt

Locations: The Southeast, parts of Texas, Chicago (check availability) | Membership required: Yes ($99 per year or $14 per month) | Shipping fee: Free with minimum order of $35 | Delivery times: 1 hour to two weeks | What you can buy: Groceries, non-perishables, alcohol in some areas

Shop at favorite stores
1 hour delivery
Requires membership

Shipt is similar to Instacart but requires you to sign up for a membership, which comes with free shipping on orders over $35 (for smaller orders, the fee is $7). Shipt has a somewhat limited coverage area versus the other best grocery delivery services, but still offers convenience and decent prices. They promote weekly sales, coupons and deals (including buy-one-get-one-free) if you’re looking to save on your grocery budget.

Like Instacart, you get a personal shopper who will pick up the items on your list from various local stores, including Kroger, Target and CVS. In some areas, you can even get alcohol. If your personal shopper has questions about substitutes, they will contact you to discuss adjustments to the order. Once you place an order, you can get your items as quickly as within the hour or schedule the delivery in the next two weeks. 

Try the Shipt service now

Best grocery delivery services: Prime Now

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Prime Now

Locations: Nearly 100 cities (check availability) | Membership required: Yes, included with Amazon Prime ($119 per year) | Shipping fee: Free with minimum order of $35 | Delivery times: 1 hour to 2 days | What you can buy: Groceries from Whole Foods and select non-perishables

Whole Foods groceries
1-hour delivery
Requires Amazon Prime membership

Think of Amazon Prime Now as two “storefronts,” one of which is Whole Foods. That means you can buy the grocery store’s fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods and prepared foods. The other storefront is Amazon goods, including its own groceries (like the ones available via Amazon Fresh) as well as other items like electronics, clothing and household supplies. The Whole Foods items and Amazon items will go into separate carts when you check out. Then, you can select a time slot as soon as within two hours (some areas have one-hour delivery). 

So what is the difference between Prime Now and Amazon Fresh? Well, Fresh sells Whole Foods 365 branded items, but not Whole Foods groceries (meat, produce, cheese, etc.) But yes, the two services are very similar and we wouldn’t be surprised if they merge soon. 

Try the Prime Now service now

Best grocery delivery services: Prime Pantry

(Image credit: Amazon)

8. Prime Pantry

Locations: Most cities except in Alaska and Hawaii (check availability) | Membership required: Yes, included with Amazon Prime ($119 per year) | Shipping fee: Free with minimum order of $35; free with Prime Pantry membership ($4.99 per month) and minimum order of $10; $5.99 for orders under $35 | Delivery times: Within 4 business days | What you can buy: Non-perishables only

Available almost everywhere
Good deals
Slow ground shipping

Note: Prime Pantry is suspended and not accepting new orders due to coronavirus-related demand.

Prime Pantry, like Amazon Fresh, is free for Amazon Prime members. But unlike Amazon Fresh, Pantry doesn’t have groceries. Instead, it offers nonperishable, shelf-stable household goods like pasta, cereal, and snacks as well as cleaning supplies and pet food. Pantry sells these goods in bulk and in smaller portions, like a single box of cereal or personal-sized snacks. It’s one of the best grocery delivery services if you’re looking to stock up on household goods as preparation for a natural disaster or the recent coronavirus pandemic. 

A Prime Pantry membership costs $4.99 a month and offers free delivery with a minimum order of $10. If you’re a non-member, you have to order $35 worth to get free delivery. Orders under $35 will cost you $5.99 in shipping. All deliveries take up to four business days, though, so this is one of the slower grocery delivery services on our list.

Try the Prime Pantry service now

How to choose the best grocery delivery service for you

The first thing to do when deciding which is the best grocery delivery service for you is determining which are available in your city or area.

If you want to find out which of the best grocery delivery services is in your area, here’s a handy list to check for availability. Just visit these links, enter your zip code or address information to learn which grocery delivery service will bring groceries right to your door.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list to the best grocery delivery services in your area, consider what you need to buy. If you need fresh produce and meat, you should go with Amazon Fresh, Walmart Grocery, Instacart, FreshDirect, Peapod, Shipt or Amazon Prime Now. If you only need non-perishables, consider Google Shopping or Prime Pantry. 

You may also want to consider the quality of the groceries. If you want organic produce, we recommend FreshDirect or Prime Now (which sells Whole Foods produce). If you want to shop at your favorite store, go with Instacart or Shipt. If you want to buy pre-made meal kits, check out Peapod and FreshDirect. If you’re all about a budget, Walmart Grocery may have some of the lowest prices. 

Grocery delivery alternatives

With so much demand for the best grocery delivery services right now, many of the providers on our list are experiencing delays. It's often hard to find open delivery slots, as well.

Other businesses, as well as new enterprises, are starting to step into the avoid. Panera has expanded from delivery of its usual menu of sandwiches, soups and salads to offer pantry essentials including milk, fruit and vegetables and their signature bread items. The goods are priced competitively to similar items found in supermarkets.

The self-driving startup Nuro recently received approval to test its driverless delivery robots in California. The company has already tested driverless delivery in Arizona and Texas and will now expand into nine Bay Area cities. Their service focuses on "last mile" deliveries — groceries, laundry, take-out orders, etc. Down the road, Nuro's robots could bring your supermarket order to you.

  • steve4king
    I've been unable to use AmazonFresh at all. I'm able to add in-stock items to my cart, and then at the very end when scheduling a delivery window, all options are grayed out. I've had a grocery list in my cart and have been checking at least once each day. It's been this way every day for the last month. Anyone else seeing this?
    Reply