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Review: “Shipt” Grocery Delivery Service. Is It Worth It?

Shipt is an Uber-style grocery delivery service that's available in forty-one cities and thirteen states. Customers pay either $99/year or $14/month for unlimited grocery deliveries.

Shipt Review

A Shipt driver (a great side hustle, by the way) gets the order through the mobile app and delivers it, in their own car, during the requested one-hour window. You can receive your delivery as soon as one hour after ordering. You can also authorize the shopper to text/call you with questions while they're shopping. Note that alcohol and cigarettes can't be ordered through Shipt in all locations (yet). 

 

Sign-up is easy: just enter your zip code and email address, select a payment plan, and add your credit card info. You'll get a two-week free trial with the annual plan. When you order through the mobile app (iOS and Android) or the website, payment is handled automatically, not the shopper. Click the hyperlinks in this review and you'll get $10 off your first order.

 

Is it worth it?

Let's analyze the costs a little bit here. It should go without saying that the fee does not include the cost of groceries. The cheapest way to use Shipt is through the $99 annual plan, which is $69 cheaper than the monthly version. Both can be canceled at any time, though it isn't clear if the annual plan includes a pro-rated refund. Furthermore, all deliveries are completely free if you order more than $35 worth of items, which shouldn't be too hard to do. If you don't, there is a $7 delivery charge.

 

The Shipt site says that prices vary by about $5 on every $35 order. That may not sound like much, but it's about $140 for every $1,000 you spend. Of course, it can vary in your favor, but we wouldn't ever count on that. You also lose the ability to use third-party coupons, but Shipt offers its own through the website and app. 

 

The easy costs to calculate come from the gas that you save. The chart below will show you (with a big green "YES") whether or not Shipt objectively leaves you with more money in your pocket. It's not comprehensive, but you can follow it by choosing a gas price, distance, and weekly number of trips closest to yours. 

For example, Shipt would make financial sense if you make three nine-mile round trips per week to the grocery store and spend $2/gallon on gas. 

 

The chart assumes the national average 23.6 miles per gallon. Distance is round-trip. Annual cost is rounded to the nearest dollar. The "Shipt" column compares the annual $99 membership to your costs.

 

The factor that this chart does not account for, however, is the value of the time you save by skipping the supermarket. Value isn't just money saved on gas or depreciation. But it's difficult to put a dollar amount on your own time. Mr. Money Mustache thinks the baseline is $25/hour and that your it's probably worth even more than that. One idea is that your time can be objectively valued by being used to learn something, choose a better insurance policy, etc. It can also be subjectively valued by the joy you get from those hours: more time together with family, exercising, resting, etc. 

Conclusion

The great benefit of Shipt is that it pays for itself based on the time you save. Even if we value your time at $12/hour, it works out. Grocery shopping takes the average American 41 minutes. If you only make one trip a week and factor in driving and (un)loading the car, you've got 1 hour x 52 weeks x $12. That's a minimum value of $624. Multiply it by the number of trips you take each week, and it only grows larger.

 

Shipt is worth it. Valuing your gas savings alone knocks the $99 down by at least $13 (and even that's a low-ball). The real value comes from the extra hour(s) each week that you reclaim from driving to and from a store where you spend unnecessary time.

 

Our only reservation is perhaps the lack of autonomy you have over prices. Shipt's prices vary by 14% (ambiguously) and you are not allowed to use outside coupons (though Shipt has its own special offers). Ease of payment is also linked to higher spending, so don't let the smooth experience of the app sidetrack your frugality.  What do you think? 

 

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Check out the Shipt fact sheet here.

Sources:

Washington Post

Credit Donkey

The Time Use Institute

Flowing Data

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