Are there ever weeks where you're too busy or exhausted to go to the grocery store? What about when you're feeling under the weather? Grocery delivery services aim to bring convenience to your life the same way restaurant delivery apps do. There are a variety of options in today's market.
Two of the top choices in the United States are Peapod and Instacart. Both operate with the same basic principle: delivering the groceries you pick right to your door. But there are also some significant differences.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that Peapod works best for budget shoppers, and Instacart works best for those who want their groceries ASAP. I've broken down the differences in more detail.
Overview of Peapod and Instacart
Unique Peapod Features
Unique Instacart Features
The biggest selling point of Peapod is that the service acts as its own supermarket. Rather than having physical locations, all the items are available online. When you complete your order, the items are brought directly from the manufacturer to your door. It cuts out the middle man, which means you get goods at lower prices.
All items available through the app are stored at a Peapod warehouse. Your shopper will get the items you request and deliver them. Depending on the area you live in, there may be unattended delivery options. With this feature, the shopper will leave the order outside your door in an insulated container, so you don't need to be home when it arrives.
To have your items delivered, your order must cost at least $60. Delivery becomes cheaper if you're ordering more items. The items will be delivered the following day.
Instacart's setup is a little different. The service doesn't have its own warehouses or act as its own grocery store. Instead, it partners with a number of chain and local stores. When you download the app, you'll have your choice of local stores to shop at.
There are some benefits and drawbacks to this. The biggest benefit is that you can purchase specialty items from stores that have niche brands or hard-to-find ingredients. These won't always be available through a Peapod warehouse. Another benefit is that shopping is completed within hours, rather than the next day.
But because the shopping is done at stores, you end up paying more for your purchases. In addition, there's a higher chance that certain items will be unavailable, since the system doesn't update as reliably as Peapod updates their warehouse inventory accounting.
Peapod's setup is the most economical and sensible. The lack of time pressure also contributes to the lower costs. However, Instacart gives you access to more specialty items and instant gratification.
The pricing through this service tends to be significantly more affordable when compared to the competition. Many of the items in the warehouses are sold at prices similar to those of local grocery stores. However, it's common to find items at price points closer to bulk stores than specialty stores.
The tradeoff for this is that you're less likely to find specialty items and ingredients. The available options can vary widely depending on your area. You're also not always guaranteed to have a large array of fresh produce options, though there should be some available.
One of the ideal policies is that the company will take manufacturer coupons and double them at values up to 99 cents. If you're a person who shops with an eye out for bargains, you'll find a lot more ways to save pennies through this service than the competition.
Instacart's grocery prices vary widely rather than being stagnant. The base price for groceries is the same as whatever the store in question charges. You'll find the same variation with the same item in different stores that you would if you were physically going from store to store.
This can sometimes allow for quick comparison shopping to find the cheapest option. But the prices also tend to inflate beyond the base store price. Instacart adds a little extra for its own bottom line, plus the prices become higher during surge times when many people are shopping at once.
Another potential drawback is that the service doesn't tend to honor in-store sales or memberships. If, for example, you have a grocery card that gets you ten percent off your orders, you won't be able to apply it to your Instacart total. The same is true of temporary sales and clearance items - there's no guarantee they'll be marked down on the app.
Peapod's pricing is affordable and transparent. Everything comes from the same place, so there's no markup or variation. Instacart, by contrast, tends to inflate prices based on demand and doesn't honor memberships or in-store sale prices.
There's no ongoing membership or subscription required to use Peapod's services.
You do have to meet a minimum order threshold of $60 to have groceries delivered, so it's not an ideal service for when you have just one item you're craving.
The base delivery price for orders between $60 and $100 is $9.95. Once you order more than $100 in groceries, the delivery price drops to $6.95, making the service geared much more toward large shopping trips than quick one-offs. Since food is delivered the next day, there aren't mark-ups due to time crunches or increased demand.
You can purchase PodPass, which gives you unlimited deliveries on orders of at least $100. The prices are:
You'll also have to pay applicable taxes.
Instacart also doesn't require you to get a membership or pay an ongoing subscription. However, you can get Instacart Express for unlimited delivery of options over $35. The price is $149 yearly.
It's suggested that you tip your shopper ten percent of the order cost. Below $35, there's an additional delivery charge. More time-crunched orders have additional fees, and you pay more during peak hours as well.
Instacart has a ton of additional fees that add up quickly. However, it does allow you to purchase smaller grocery loads for similar delivery prices. Express gives you unlimited delivery of anything above $35, whereas Peapod's membership requires you to spend $100 before getting free delivery.
Pros and Cons of Peapod
Pros and Cons of Instacart
Final Thoughts: Which Is Better?
Both of these are high-quality delivery options available in a variety of areas throughout the United States. The first thing to check is whether both services are available in your area.
Instacart is best for those who want instant grocery shopping gratification. The shoppers immediately go to your store of choice and find the items on your list. They deliver them to your door an hour or two after you place the order, or you can schedule delivery for a specific time. That convenience can get pricey, though.
On the other hand, Peapod is best optimized for bargain shoppers. The service is like a specialty grocery store. It comes with increased discounts and savings. Manufacturing coupons up to 99 cents are doubled. Groceries are delivered the next day rather than within hours, though, so it's a better choice for people who plan ahead.
I have recently had Peapod close out there services in my state (Illinois) and I sure miss it. I have been using Instacart and there is no comparison in my opinion. Peapod was much superior for the reasons listed in your review and there are other of my own reasons. Peapod offered discount time windows of $3 up to $5. They had more efficient delivery drivers who brought the items in your apt. or home automatically. Things ordered were 99% of the time in stock ( with an option for replacements) No pressure to tip. ( I would always give the driver cash after completing the delivery) It was just an over all more professional set up mechanics wise in large part due to them having their own warehouse of grocery items and even their own house brand on many products which would be lower priced. Also the sale prices listed was the true and actual final price you paid. There was also no mix ups with meat items or produce. No hassles with having to text replies with these instacart shoppers when items you ordered are not available and they want to pick their own more expensive replacement. I used Peapod for 7 years, once a month with only a few minor negative issues on maybe 4 occasions. They will resolve anything in an instant. Good luck shopping. Tom
Thanks for the input Tom!