Consider a few scenarios.
You have just moved into your college dorm and you realize that you forgot shampoo, your favorite energy bars, sheets for your bed, or treats for your guide dog.
You're in your dentist's waiting room, and you get a text reminder that three friends are coming over for dinner and you don't have time to get the necessary groceries.
You just plain find going to the grocery store complicated and time consuming and wish someone could do it for you.
The resounding solution to each of these dilemmas could well be a business called Shipt, a service whose motto is: "We bring the store to your door." Imagine shopping on your mobile phone or laptop for everything from groceries to party decorations to pet food or toilet paper, and having it at your door in as little as an hour.
What is Shipt?
Shipt Inc. was launched in 2014 by chief executive Bill Smith in Birmingham, Alabama. In December 2017, the grocery delivery service company was purchased for $550 million by Target. By the end of 2018, Shipt.com had a cadre of over 50,000 shoppers nationwide delivering groceries, pet supplies, household goods and more directly to customers’ doors, saving busy people the time and trouble of cruising grocery and retail aisles. For those of us who are blind or low vision, this service is arguably a superior method to traditional shopping since it affords us the opportunity to browse products, read descriptions, and compare prices in a way not necessarily available to us when shopping on site.
Shopping with Shipt can be done on a computer or through an iOS or Android app. This article will deal primarily with the iOS version. The stores included in the app vary from city to city, although Target seems to be available in any area in which Shipt has launched, as is CVS. Some locations list 6 to 8 available stores while others offer only two or three. New locations are added every week, however, so the likelihood of it being within the reach of most US readers of AccessWorld is excellent.
The Shipt Shopping Experience
Let's first look at the experience from the perspective of a customer who has already created an account and used the service at least once. Let's say we are in an area where Kroger is the primary grocery store. (Those of you who live in areas served by Publix, Meijer, Winn-Dixie, Lucky's Market, Fresh Market, or a host of others need not worry. Shipt shops at these and other stores as well.)
Waiting for a meeting to begin one morning, I have 15 minutes to spare and open the Shipt app on my iPhone. It immediately shows me my own delivery address and the next available delivery time from Kroger (usually within the next 90 minutes.) Satisfied with my own delivery address and the selected store, I begin shopping.
A number of quick links appear. The first of these is Buy Again. Others include On Sale, Browse, Favorites, and categories such as Dairy, Produce, Frozen, Bakery, and Pantry..
Typically, I start my shopping with Buy Again. Here, every item I have previously purchased will appear. Let's say the first item is Blueberries. Next to the name Blueberries are the words “6 ounces, price $4.69, Open Product Detail.”
Below this item description will be an Add 1 button. To add the item to the cart, simply double tap the Add 1 button. Later, if you change your mind, removing the item from your list is just as easy as adding it. Continuing down the list of items previously purchased — milk, bananas, Swiss cheese, and so on — I simply double tap the Add 1 button for any desired items. To learn more about an item, double tap its name, which includes the Open Product Detail invitation. While not all items have information on this screen, the majority of products do.
I have never purchased Eggo’s Mini Pancakes. The product detail reads, in part, "Eggo's mini pancakes are a great tasting breakfast option ... Drizzle with syrup, top them with fruit, slather on some peanut butter ... or enjoy them for dinner."
Nutrition information appears here as well. For some products, this screen will also include the product directions for microwave and oven. There is an Add 1 button on this screen for quickly adding the product to your cart, and a Close Product Details button in the upper left corner of the screen to return to browsing in the same category or another. In every list, there is a Return to Previous Page button in the upper left corner for when you want to leave, say, the Dairy aisle to start looking for seafood or dessert.
As is true in the brick-and-mortar version of grocery shopping, each of us approaches a store in our own way. You might begin, as I do, with your previously purchased items. Alternatively, you might prefer to go directly to the On Sale list or to a specific category such as Dairy, Frozen, Bakery, or Deli. All lists are presented the same way, with the item name, size, and price on one line, and an Add 1 button below. To move to another category, simply double tap the Return to Previous Page button.
Returning to the original screen, there is always a Search option near the top. Here, you can enter any type of food or brand name. Just entering "avocado" for example, will net several search options:
- Search for Avocado Fresh.
- Search for Avocado Bag.
- Search for Avocado Salad.
- Search for Avocado Mayonnaise.
And so on.
Choosing Avocado Fresh nets these results:
- Previously Purchased avocado, 1 ct, $2.19.
- Avocado bag, 4 ct, sale price, $3.59.
- Organic avocados, 4 ct, price $7.39.
Each item, of course, has the Add 1 button below it. If you were looking for Avocado Salad Dressing, you could select Search again and choose a new option.
Searches also offer several filters for getting more specific results. The avocado search, for example, offers such filters as On Sale, Kitchen, Pantry, and Personal Care. If Personal Care is chosen as the filter, the first option in the product list is Suave Avocado and Olive Oil Body Wash, 12.6 fl. ounces, $2.49. You can Open Product Detail here for more information, double tap the Add 1 button to put it in your cart, or select the Return to Previous Page button in the upper left-hand corner to shop for snow peas or hamburger buns.
The Shipt Shopping Cart
You can go to your cart for review at any time. Once there, you will find the list of items you have selected. Below each item are three buttons: Add 1, Remove 1, and Add Note. If, for instance, you have placed one honey crisp apple in your cart, you can tap the Add 1 button repeatedly to increase that number to 2 or 3 or 4 apples. If you placed a half-gallon of Simply Orange orange juice but later found Tropicana, which is more to your liking, you can tap the Remove 1 button to take the first choice away. If you have ordered bananas and you like your bananas with a bit of green on them, you can select the Add Note button below bananas and type or dictate that preference.
When you are satisfied with your cart, there will be a checkout button, along with your total price, in the lower left corner of the screen. Double tapping this button will bring up all of your final details. First, you can select your delivery date and time. If you want your groceries today, you select Today and then the preferred time range. If ordering around 11:30 in the morning, for instance, your first choice might be from 1:00 to 2:00 PM. From there, you can select any hour up until the store's closing time. You can also schedule delivery for a future date and time. After selecting your delivery time, you will be shown your payment details. This will include the type of card you have on file, along with its last 4 digits, and any fees that might apply. A Place Order button will be in the lower left corner. Once tapped, you will get a thank-you message and, before long, a notification from your personal shopper that they have begun shopping.
Communicating with Your Shopper
It's a good idea to keep your phone with you while the shopping is being done. You might get messages from your shopper asking you if it is OK to substitute one brand for another if the brand you have ordered is out of stock or if a similar product is on sale for a lower price. You can also add to your order until your shopper sends a message that he has completed checkout and is on the way. After your groceries have been delivered, the app will offer you the opportunity to rate your shopper and add a tip, which is done electronically, not with cash in hand.
Creating an Account
Create an account by opening the site in your web browser or by downloading the app and opening it on your iPhone or android device. You will be asked for your name, address, phone number, and your credit card information. You can sign up for an annual membership, $99 annually or $8.25 per month, or, if you are less certain about your commitment, for a monthly subscription of $14 per month. The delivery fee will be waived for any order of at least $35. (On those rare occasions when I need just a few items and am thus falling below the $35, I often add one staple that I know I will eventually use, such as a bottle of wine or box of coffee K cups, to bring the checkout price up to $35. Of course, if you do have less than $35 in your cart, you can still get quick delivery, but you will pay a $7 service fee for that delivery.
I have used Shipt for nearly two years now. I use it regularly for groceries, but I have also shopped for toys, clothing, cosmetics, and other household items. Once, when I needed a holiday themed tablecloth, I used the Add Note field to ask the shopper to call me with descriptions when she was standing in front of the tablecloths. She did so and I wound up with a lovely table accessory.
Shoppers come from every demographic — college students, retirees, working moms, and others. All have been friendly and nearly all have been excellent shoppers for fresh fruit, vegetables, and sales!
Shipt offers a number of promotions such as a two-week free trial and $50 off your annual membership for referring a friend. To find out which stores are shopped in your area, simply visit the Shipt website and enter your zip code.
The Shipt app was somewhat difficult to use in its early iterations, but feedback from blind users has definitely had an effect. Today, it is completely accessible and VoiceOver friendly. I can put in a huge grocery order in probably 15 minutes, and then do other things with my time until a friendly Shipt shopper brings the store to my door.
To sign up or explore, go to the Shipt website or download Shipt from the iTunes or Google Play store.
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
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