I hate going to the grocery store. Well, to be fair, I hate going to run of the mill grocery stores. I like going to the stores that have unusual fruits, vegetables and packaged items to try. I love a really well stocked appetizing counter and unique prepared food options. Truly, I really don’t love shopping even under the best circumstances. So when Shipt appeared in S. Tampa I was an early adapter.

Shipt is a grocery delivery service with an online portal that lets a shopper pick each and every item, pay with a credit card, and then have the bags of groceries delivered in a specific one hour time slot. Shipt in Tampa shops at Publix and can specify which Publix the shopper shops at. That’s important, since the Publix at Bayshore is not as well stocked as the Publix on Neptune/Dale Mabry. And I can select an early morning delivery and arrive a bit later to the office. Or I can order up food for tonight’s dinner and arrive at home just as the groceries are being set outside my front door. Shipt also has the added bonus of partnering with ABC Liquors! The Shipt shopper will stop at ABC, pick up my liquid refreshments, with the same order as my groceries.This program works really well for me.

Naturally, this service comes at a cost. I would gladly pay anyone at least $20 to shop for me, probably more. Here with Shipt, I paid an annual fee of $99, which enables me to have free delivery on orders over $35.00. Let’s be real: how can you have an order below $35.00 these days? With my subscription, I have my own log in and a credit card on file. The system also saves my prior orders so I can simply check and recheck the items I want to refill. Shipt makes money somewhere, so exactly where is that? I can see that each item is slightly more expensive than the store price. At times, the Shipt price is very fair, especially when combined with a BOGO or a sale priced item. The opposite is also true: I buy McCann’s Steel Cut Oatmeal, which costs about $4.99 in the store; with Shipt it was over $7.00! You gotta watch that. I suspect I am paying about $20-25.00 more for the service than I would pay for the same groceries purchased in-store. And most days, I am supremely happy to have Shipt at my fingertips.

Recently, Publix rolled out their in house shopping service: Instacart. This service is very similar to Shipt, complete with subcontractors who fulfill the orders, to uplifted item prices, and either membership or a delivery fee. I tried Instacart once and was thrilled to see that beer and wine could be fulfilled right there in the store. The day I ordered there were BOGO’s on my favorite beer and wine. My shopper texted me, a feature I love, to say that my beer selections were sold out, what else would I like? Now that is great service! Tipping is optional, and something I want to do each time. I have found my shoppers to be diligent, prompt and very polite.

I hope that the grocery delivery services like Shipt and Instacart evolve even more. Does having a delivery service replace the need for brick and mortar stores? At some point, I think on-line shopping for groceries will fall in line with the likes of the sporting goods, electronics and clothing stores, reducing the size of the store itself or going virtual, with no physical store at all. I await the ongoing evolution of grocery delivery and online shopping services.