Whether your team wins Sunday night, we hope you are a winner when it comes to your Super Bowl party.
Our morning crew LOVES to eat, so it didn't take much convincing to ask them to do a special On Your Side report about grocery services in Central Virginia - you know the ones that will either deliver to your front door or have your bags ready when you pull up to the store.
Our team "tackled" all the options for you to see who is actually winning the grocery game.
In order to start with a level playing field, we planned a Super Bowl party, and we ordered the same food from each provider - about $50 worth - to see who delivered the best product. All of the orders and pickups were made at about the same time, to keep things as fair as possible.
Sarah Bloom took on Kroger's Clicklist. Eric Philips tried out Walmart's grocery pickup. Andrew Freiden used Amazon. Candice Smith took on Instacart.
Unfortunately, Andrew faced an early fumble with Amazon. Fresh produce was just too expensive, and he had to throw a flag for snack items like chips and salsa too, because he'd have to order such a huge quantity.
"Yeah, and that's 100 bucks, I'm not going to order it," Andrew said, looking at his cart.
(You can read more about what Andrew learned specifically about Amazon below)
KROGER AND WALMART
Sarah and Eric had very similar experiences when it came to the ordering processes at Walmart and Kroger.
Order online, click through items, add them to the cart and schedule a pickup.
"You choose your quantity here," Sarah said, filling up her cart with the party items.
Coupons were readily available, and Kroger did seem to track one’s grocery list if you came back later to add or subtract items.
"There is my subtotal, so pickup is free,” said Eric.
Morning traffic reporter, Candice Smith, tried Instacart. She placed her order on an app. Then, someone else grocery shops for the products, and the groceries come right to your door.
"You can see that was super fast," said Candice of the ordering experience.
When the ordering was done, Amazon was out of the game.
So the second half started with a showdown between Kroger, Walmart, and Instacart.
Sarah headed out to Kroger. Upon arrival, the consumer finds the Clicklist lanes. Then, you park and and call the number on a sign.
"Hi! Good morning! My name is Sarah Bloom and I'm here to pick up an order from the click list."
The driver came out quickly, but there was a setback.
"There's no carrots or celery sticks and the original franks are sold out,” the Kroger employee said.
And there were no substitutions.
Walmart took a hit early in the delivery game - snow canceled Eric's order, and pickup had to be rescheduled.
Not good if you were counting on groceries on the day of your party.
He rescheduled and headed back out to Walmart.
"Hi, I'm out in reserved spot number five," said Eric.
This time, Eric’s groceries came out as ordered and on time. He also got a $10 discount for his trouble, after the order was canceled due to snow.
Instacart was a touchdown for Candice, she found the process to be fairly seamless.
"Looks like everything is here,” said Candice. “We have the frozen ones together. The chips together."
Candice didn't even leave the building, and the groceries came on a bad weather day.
To pick a winner, we cooked the food and threw a Super Bowl party.
We rated the services on five categories: Convenience, Cost, Accuracy, Quality, and Overall Experience.
Each earned a score, 1 for bad, 2 for average, 3 for excellent.
For Convenience, Walmart got docked a point because of the snow cancellation and rescheduling. Kroger was docked because two items were not in stock.
For Accuracy, we had to deduct a point from Kroger for the substitutions.
Amazon had to be benched - it just didn't fit the goals we had and it didn’t make sense to order food from them for this kind of party.
It was a nail-biter at the end - Walmart barely outscored Kroger mostly because we didn't get some of the items we needed from our Kroger pickup and it would have been a huge inconvenience to go to another store to get them, especially if you were busy that day or had children with you.
"If you expect to have that and nothing is substituted, then your Super Bowl party will be a disaster," Andrew pointed out.
“It said substitute for order and they didn't substitute, so that would be an inconvenience," said Sarah, pointing out that the order she placed did allow substitutions.
The winner was pretty clear - Instacart took home our Super Bowl grocery shopping championship with a perfect score.
The cost was slightly higher to pay for delivery and a tip, but the extra points came from staying warm inside while the groceries were delivered straight to our door, and getting everything we asked for.
And that felt like a win.
AMAZON, ANDREW FREIDEN
I was pretty confident that the ordering from Amazon would be a breeze, but ran into some roadblocks.
I quickly found out when ordering perishable items, the sizes were quite large. I couldn’t get a small bag of shredded cheese, for instance. I had to get two pounds of shredded cheese and that ate up a sizable part of my budget.
I think I could’ve made it work had it been a bigger party and I had to buy more food. With a $50 budget I had a hard time.
Amazon has another way to order groceries called their "pantry box." But I couldn’t make that work either. You click on items and fill up a box and they ship it when it’s full. I couldn’t fill up a box with what we needed.
I had to add extra stuff that was not on the list.
I am a satisfied Amazon customer, but just couldn’t make it work with a mix of perishable items in perishables plus keeping the budget under $50.
KROGER, SARAH BLOOM
I thought it was incredibly easy to search for products and order online. The site was user friendly, and made it easy for me to cut coupons, save orders and update them according to my schedule.
The customer just puts in a zip code, locates a store, and schedules a pick-up time. You can’t always schedule a pickup on the same day, so for me that was a downside. The store needs at least a few hours to put an order together.
It took me a few minutes to find the Kroger Clicklist sign, but once I did, it was easy to follow the directions to get my order. I parked, called a number on the parking spot sign, and my groceries came out moments later.
The store where I shopped wasn't able to provide substitutions for two items I ordered, so that was an inconvenience. But otherwise, the food was great, it was easy to use, and I stayed within budget. I also got $5 off because it was one of the first times I used the delivery service.
After that, I would have to pay that fee as well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still worth it for the convenience.
WALMART, ERIC PHILIPS
I would have to say that my shopping experience was a good one for the most part. I had never ordered groceries for pick up before, but it didn’t take me long to get up to speed.
The process was pretty user friendly: Searching for my items and adding them to my cart was easy - a process made easier by knowing what exactly I wanted based on this project. Paying for the order was simple and I received notification of when my order would be ready.
I did run into one snag! It snowed the day before I was supposed to pick up my groceries and because of that my order was canceled because Walmart said they couldn’t fulfill online orders for that day in light of the inclement weather.
So, whereas I was supposed to pick up the order Friday, that turned into Monday. If I had been planning a gathering for Sunday this would have been problematic, but for the purpose of our report, it was nothing more than a slight inconvenience.
When I arrived to pick up the order I waited less than 5 minutes before a worker was bringing out my groceries. The worker was friendly, and obviously wanted to provide good customer service. My order was accurate and complete.
Again, overall the experience was a good one. I would recommend Walmart's grocery pick up option to someone else.
INSTACART, CANDICE SMITH
I thought it was a great and easy way to order products. One thing to note - you have to download the app to order your items, but it is really simple to use and navigate.
The customer first puts in a zip code, then has the option to purchase items from Wegmans, Food Lion, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Petco and Farm Fresh.
Once you’ve selected your store, you will have to create an account (name, email and a password). You will then have the option of a "free" 14-day trial that includes unlimited free deliveries, free one-hour rush delivery, and the ability to shop from multiple stores with free delivery.
Although all of this sounds like a great deal, be sure to read the fine print at the bottom of the screen.
"Try Express for 14 days at no risk. After your trial, you authorize a recurring annual charge of $149." If you do not select this option, there will be a $5.99 delivery fee.
The search bar is located at the center of the screen. The app is very user friendly, and made it easy to search for the items requested (also provided suggestions and other products usually purchased with your items). Substitutions are made available if your item is not in stock.
Once you have all of your items in your cart you can select same day delivery (within hours of selecting your items) or you can schedule a date and time for delivery. I decided to select a day in advance, I received all of my items with one substitution.
The driver sends and email when they are on the way with an expected arrival time.
I would definitely recommend this service, just watch out for the fine print below the "free 14-day trial."
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