In no small way, shopping for groceries online has moved from being a decadent novelty to an accepted norm. The rapid growth of online grocery delivery is thanks, in part, to the pandemic, but also because many traditional grocers have found it impossible to retain a customer base without offering their wares online.
Though the process of shopping for groceries online has changed over the years, two things have remained constant: Every year it gets easier for customers to buy groceries online, and every year there are more options available. But, as is the problem with having too many choices, it can be difficult to know precisely which is the best service when it comes to getting the groceries you want in a convenient and timely manner.
Fortunately, no matter whether you are a seasoned online food shopper or just curious about the best options for having groceries delivered, we’ve got you covered with an in-depth analysis of the best grocery delivery service options available online.
5 Best Grocery Delivery Service Providers
1. Instacart: Editor’s Choice – Best Overall Service & Selection
2. Stop & Shop: Close Second
3. Giant: Worthy Mention
4. Cooks Venture: Meats
5. Full Circle
How Did We Select These 5 Online Grocers?
If you haven’t noticed, shopping for groceries online has changed considerably since just a few years ago. Consumers now have many more options than limited services from local grocery stores. So to compile our recommendations, we considered more than just major online grocers currently available to U.S. residents. We also looked at independent retailers, small business owners, and new apps dedicated to providing the best grocery delivery services.
To make our list, we first winnowed down that large universe of companies to a manageable subset of candidates by using a robust methodology to screen on a variety of factors related specifically to the industry of online ordering and delivering of groceries, including ease of use, range of products offered as well as quality, delivery time and prices. Then we examined the resulting group of candidates to ensure their customer service and the overall experience of shoppers was up to our high standards.
In the end, we found five options that met our criteria as being able to provide a superior combination of price and quality. We ranked those five best grocery delivery services according to our specific standards and have outlined them for you below.
The Best Online Grocery Delivery Services – Reviews & Analyses
1. Instacart: Editor’s Choice – Best Overall Service & Selection
- Large variety of available products
- Easy to navigate website and app
- Fast delivery
- No membership required
- Low delivery fees
- Fresh produce
- App can be slow at times depending on connection speed
Why We Chose Instacart
When it comes to the best of the best in the sphere of online grocery delivery services, no other company offers such a wide range of products for consumers across the USA quite like Instacart. With no membership fees and the ability to shop at local businesses in your area, Instacart is genuinely one of the best online grocery delivery services.
What Can You Order With Instacart?
With Instacart, consumers can shop at their local supermarket or get groceries delivered directly to their door from over 500 of the nation’s biggest brands, including but not limited to:
Their services aren’t just limited to delivering groceries either. For those that want to bundle all of their shopping purchases, Instacart also offers its personal shopping and delivery services for companies such as:
- The Container Store
- Bed, Bath, and Beyond
- The Vitamin Shoppe
Instacart users who prefer to shop at farmer’s markets for fresh produce can even get in on the delivery action and order from a variety of farm-to-table businesses.
Instacart Delivery Procedures
Ordering from Instacart is super easy. They have a website and a mobile app that requires you to input your zip code to find retailers available in your area. The delivery fee starts at a small amount of under four dollars, with larger orders having the possibility of free delivery if you sign up for their loyalty program, Instacart Express. All shopping is done by a personal shopper and same-day delivery is available if needed; in as little as two hours in some cases.
Items unavailable? Not a problem with Instacart. The application makes it easy to communicate with your personal shopper or select alternative items to complete your order.
The Bottom Line
Instacart offers customers a way to get their favorite groceries, liquors, and items quickly and easily with a user-friendly website and mobile app, personal shoppers, and contactless delivery.
2. Stop & Shop: Close Second – Best Real Grocery Store Experience
- Shop aisle by aisle – just like in an actual grocery store
- Easy checkout system
- Contactless delivery
- Loyalty program
- Fresh produce
- Only available to shoppers in the Northeast US
Why We Chose Stop & Shop
Stop & Shop made our list because it is the best and most authentic grocery store shopping experience that can be done entirely online. Their website is conveniently organized by aisle, product type, and brand, so you can find everything you need with just a few clicks or taps on your screen.
What Can You Order With Stop & Shop?
Anything you would want to purchase at your local grocery store but don’t have the time, patience, or energy to go in and do yourself can be purchased online at Stop & Shop for delivery right to your home. From groceries to household items to health and beauty products, they have it all. Stop & Shop makes online shopping easy by organizing items into the following categories:
- Meat / Seafood
- Bakery Goods
- Snacks & Sweets
- Health & Beauty
- Household Goods
- Baby Care
- Alcoholic Beverages
Stop & Shop Delivery Procedures
Once Stop & Shop’s system processes your order, a store associate will prepare it and have it ready for the designated delivery team to pick up and deliver to you. Stop & Shop offers next-day delivery with a limited range of time choices. If you can wait more than a day for delivery, you can choose a specific time and day for delivery. Discounts on the delivery fee are usually available for those with flexible schedules.
Stop & Shop recommends that you be home for a delivery, even if you have asked for a contactless delivery method. This way, you don’t have to worry about your groceries being taken off of your porch while you are away. The delivery fee is based on the order total, with a larger order eligible for a lower fee when you sign up for their loyalty rewards program.
The Bottom Line
If you live in the Northeast and want a familiar shopping experience where you can go aisle by aisle, then Stop & Shop is an excellent option. Their online specials and loyalty programs also make them a very budget-friendly option.
3. Giant: Worthy Mention
- Excellent delivery services and discounts for businesses
- Great for bulk orders
- Customizable delivery options
- Online coupons
- Limited amount of locations
- Website difficult if VPN is being used
Why We Chose Giant
Giant is a one-stop-shop for practically any business need, from restaurants to hotels and more. Grocery orders for businesses and individuals can be customized to accommodate any size budget, and bulk ordering is easily done on their website.
What Can You Order With Giant?
For easy shopping, you can place orders by browsing and selecting items from the following categories on their website:
- Meat & Seafood
- General Merchandise
- Snacks & Sweets
- Pharmacy OTC products
Any of these categories can be searched by subcategories if you are looking for a specific item or don’t want to spend time browsing through their entire catalog of products.
Giant Delivery Procedures
Giant offers unlimited free delivery services to its customers who live in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. Much like Stop & Shop, they recommend that you be home at the time of delivery.
Businesses that want to save money with their regular orders can get up to $50 off purchases that are $250 or more. The delivery fee can vary as the price is calculated based on the order total and not the number of items.
The Bottom Line
If bulk orders and discounts for businesses are a high priority, Giant is the best option. They provide a range of products that businesses and individuals use every day, and the site makes it easy to apply coupons and discounts directly at checkout.
4. Cooks Venture: Meats
- GMO-free meat
- Local family business
- Certified humane farming practices
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on all orders
- Free shipping only available to the contiguous 48 states
- No add-ons for fresh produce or pantry items
Why We Chose Cooks Venture
Cooks Venture stood out to us as the best source of grass-fed, pasteurized beef and chicken delivery available to all 50 states.
What Can You Order With Cooks Venture?
Currently, Cooks Venture offers three package options. Each is customizable, so if you want a little extra chicken with your beef or a little extra beef with your chicken, it’s easy to add to your order before checkout. Their customizable and pre-selected packages include a range of meat products, including:
- ground beef, lamb, & chicken
- whole chickens
- chicken wings & drumsticks
- beef burger patties
- chicken breast & thighs
- chicken thighs
Cooks Venture Delivery Procedures
They don’t require an account to their site to place an order, but it is recommended for faster ordering on future purchases. Cooks Ventures offers express checkout using ApplePay, PayPal, GPay, and Amazon pay, in addition to accepting all major credit and debit cards.
Shipping is free on all orders, provided you live in the 48 contiguous United States. Check out their shipping policy to see what rates are for Alaska and Hawaii.
The Bottom Line
Meat lovers looking for humanely raised, antibiotic-free chicken and beef delivered right to their door will enjoy the quality products offered at Cooks Venture.
5. Full Circle
- A large variety of farm-fresh fruits and veggies
- Customizable orders & delivery schedule
- Organic produce
- Cost-saving referral program
- Limited delivery area (Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon)
Why We Chose Full Circle
Full Circle stood out to us because of their premium organic fruit and veg delivery services that work on a subscription basis, although in a very limited delivery area. In addition, they offer an array of customizable options and can be set up for regular deliveries, so you never have to worry about remembering to place your order for the week.
What Can You Order With Full Circle?
Full Circle ships organic fresh produce to areas in the Pacific Northwest. They have three different box subscriptions to choose from:
- Mixed Fruit and Veg Box – A popular choice for those who cook a few times a week and enjoy fresh organic fruits in their favorite recipes. Ideal for families.
- Traditional CSA Box – Mostly organic veg with some fruit thrown in to provide a more rounded diet throughout the week.
- Organic Snack Pack – An excellent way for those who love snacking to do it healthy with a variety of easy-to-carry and eat fresh fruits.
In addition to these box subscriptions, customers can add extras to their order such as dairy & eggs, coffee & tea, artisanal bread, and other pantry items.
Full Circle Delivery Procedures
Ordering from Full Circle is pretty easy, provided you live in their service areas. Input your zip code on the website and select the type of box subscription you want. There are various sizes for each box, and Full Circle provides helpful infographics to help you choose the right portions for your needs.
Delivery times vary depending on your location but usually come the night before you requested delivery up to the early morning hours on the delivery date. The delivery fee is included in the subscription charge, so you don’t have to worry about additional fees after you place your order.
The Bottom Line
Full Circle is a good way to get farm-fresh organic produce delivered weekly or bi-monthly for an affordable fee – as long as you live in their service area.
What is Online Grocery Shopping?
It seems that just about everything we do these days is now online. From renewing a driver’s license to taking college classes, the most routine parts of our everyday lives are being run through the Internet. Ordering groceries and staple products is no exception, and some of the widest range of options for food shopping is now online. But what is online grocery shopping exactly?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: you go online, search for the food you want to buy, and have it delivered right to your house. This can save you a considerable amount of time because it eliminates the need to drive to the grocery store, walk around looking for the items you need, and waiting in long lines.
How Does Online Grocery Store Shopping Work?
Shopping for groceries online is far more flexible than regular online shopping for electronics, airplane tickets, or clothing. With online food shopping and delivery services, you can create and save lists of the products you use all of the time for routine delivery on a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly schedule so you never have to worry about running out or forgetting to restock.
Not every order has to be set to a schedule, though. Several grocery delivery services, such as Instacart, Cooks Venture, and Stop & Shop offer one-time grocery delivery services to provide you with what you need – when you need it.
While many retailers and vendors will offer a variety of different products, the overall process is the same when it comes to ordering groceries online and having them delivered.
- Choose the site you want to order from.
- Select the items you wish to order
- Set the delivery date & time
- Choose the delivery specifications
- Pay for your order
- Sit back and relax while your order is being fulfilled and delivered
How to Choose a Grocery Delivery Service?
Choosing the service that will meet your needs best is a little trickier than it sounds. This is not because choosing the best grocery delivery service isn’t easy to do, but because so many options are available for consumers to choose from.
So, what are your options? Well, that depends on your location, the quality of food you want, and your budget.
Choosing the best grocery delivery services based on service area
Where you are located will be the main determining factor as to which grocery delivery service you choose. Most delivery services ask you to input your zip code prior to ordering to ensure you live within their service area. Your location will also determine how fast your grocery delivery happens. For example, if you live on the edges of a service area, it may take longer to receive your shipment than if the grocery store is closer to your delivery address. Additionally, some retailers charge a delivery fee based on distance, not on order size.
Choosing the best grocery delivery services based on the quality of food you want
If you live in an area without great access to fresh fruit, organic vegetables, or GMO-free meat and dairy products, you may consider ordering from a service that delivers groceries straight to your door from local farmers.
This higher quality of food is offered by a variety of farm-to-table vendors and can easily be delivered to residents within any of the 50 states. However, be sure to check out a vendor’s website before ordering to calculate the extended delivery times that may be required to ship to your location.
Choosing the best grocery delivery services based on budget
This is potentially the most difficult of all the factors but there are a few ways to go about it:
- Shop around before making an order so you can compare prices between stores.
- Pay attention to sales and delivery specials that a potential service is offering.
- Try searching for a coupon code before placing an order.
Instacart, for example, has a variety of coupon codes online that can save you much as 15% on orders.
In addition to coupons and sales, many services offer subscriptions that lower the per-product cost with each order. And while some consider the major downside of online food shopping being delivery fees, many online retailers offer free shipping after a certain threshold of items has been bought or if you spend a minimum amount of money.
Think about how often you make grocery orders and try out a few different services for a month or two before settling on a service that suits your needs best.
Additional options to consider
Every online supermarket will have a gimmick of some sort to attract and retain customers. Some will offer loyalty and rewards programs to give discounts on future orders or reduce the shipping or delivery fee. Others provide online coupons applicable at checkout to save you money on your purchases in real-time. Some even design the online shopping experience to mimic walking through an actual grocery store with choices to shop by aisle.
Depending on your preferences, you may also want to consider the following when thinking about which grocery delivery service is best for you:
- Is the service available through an app or only online?
- Can I create a regular order to be shipped every week?
- Do they have an affiliate program to earn cashback through personal referrals?
- How will they package my order, and can I choose a specific type of packaging?
- Is the delivery fee based on distance, order amount, or both?
- How long will it take for my groceries to arrive after I place my order?
- Is there a membership fee?
- Are there fees for last-minute orders, like if I placed an order with 5 hours to go before it’s due?
- Is there an additional service or delivery fee for other things, like cold/frozen food?
- Who will choose my items from the store? Deliver them?
The answers to these questions will help you determine which services are best for delivering your favorite products right to your door.
What Are The Advantages Of Grocery Delivery?
While some may claim that ordering groceries online to be delivered later is impractical or lazy, there are actually quite a few benefits to the process. For one thing, ordering online makes it easier to buy groceries on the go. This is especially useful for people who live busy lives and do not have enough time to shop at the store. Whether your schedule is packed with responsibilities or you simply don’t like heading to the store, ordering groceries online can be a life-saver.
Managing the shopping list is easier as well. Most online food store apps have the functionality to refill your cart with the last order, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting weekly staples. Plus, if you’re not a fan of squeezing, smelling or otherwise selecting the best produce, those employed to fulfill your order are trained to select the best produce available – as well as steaks and poultry.
Another advantage of grocery delivery is that you can order any time of the day or night – no more worrying about making it to the store before they close. Instead, you can simply log onto their website, select your items, and set a delivery date for when it’s convenient for you.
And, of course, contactless grocery store delivery services have been an excellent way to keep yourself and front-line workers safe from COVID exposure. By staying home and waiting for your groceries to be delivered, you are doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID (and regular flu for that matter).
Advice for Grocery Delivery Shoppers
To get the most out of your shopping and grocery delivery experience, follow these tips to ensure there are no problems with your order or delivery:
- Always check reviews before you order. The best online grocery delivery services offer competitive pricing, good deals, excellent customer service, free delivery on orders over a certain amount. If this information isn’t reflected in their customer reviews, it’s probably not a service worth using.
- Be sure to order enough food for at least a week or two. This is especially true if you are new to ordering groceries online since it takes some time to get used to it. You might even want to consider setting up a regular order for your household if you plan on using the service long-term.
- Make sure you are home for delivery. While most delivery services will do their due diligence contacting you when they arrive, if you aren’t home, chances are they will leave it on your doorstep – available to anyone to take.
- Plan ahead. Not all grocery stores have same-day delivery or even if they do, deliver as soon as your payment is processed and accepted. Even the best grocery delivery services still need at least 2 hours to select your items from the store and get them to your door.
- Examine your order when it arrives. Most grocery delivery services have a small window to report missing or damaged items to an order. Be sure that as soon as your groceries are delivered, you inspect the items to ensure they are all accounted for and in good condition.
- Join the loyalty programs. The best online grocers offer discounts on your regular orders for shopping with them frequently or taking advantage of select promotions.
- Be flexible. Sometimes items run out of stock. When this happens, stores will do their best to contact you for an alternate item they can put into your order. Some stores even offer a section on the order form for a secondary option in case the item you want is out of stock.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you tip the grocery delivery driver?
Tips are generally voluntary but are always greatly appreciated by the driver or the person who has done the item selecting for you. Check with your specific grocery delivery service to see if they already include a tip in the total price of your delivery.
2. Can I pay in cash when my items are delivered?
Getting groceries delivered isn’t like getting a pizza delivered or taking a cab. Drivers typically don’t carry cash, and it’s rare for a grocery store to deliver an order unless they have received payment in advance.
3. Is there a limit to the number of items I can order?
Not usually. Although, be sure to verify how your grocery delivery service calculates its delivery fee. Sometimes larger or heavy orders will come with a higher delivery or service fee.
4. Is my personal information safe with an online grocery service?
Yes. All of the most popular online grocers go to great lengths to secure member data and do not share or sell it with third parties. In addition, your credit card information is also protected by Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption which scrambles your purchase information so it cannot be decoded.
5. Can I add items to my grocery delivery after I have processed the order?
Grocery stores know that sometimes a person can forget an item or not realize they are out of something until after the order has been completed, so most have very convenient order changing protocols for such events. Be sure to check with your delivery service to find out how much time you have before you can no longer make changes to your order.
6. What happens if I miss my delivery time?
That depends on each individual delivery service, but often delivery can be rescheduled for an additional fee. Sometimes, drivers will leave your order at the door, regardless of whether you are home or not. If you think that you may miss your scheduled delivery, it’s best to contact the service immediately to reschedule your order.
Get Your Favorite Groceries Delivered Right to Your Door
Ordering groceries online has a lot of advantages that make it a reliable and time-saving option for many people. While definitely different from an in-store shopping experience, ordering groceries online can be fun – especially if you join in on a rewards program that saves you money each time you make an order.
Join the millions of Americans already having groceries delivered to their door and enjoy a safer, more convenient way of getting your groceries.