Published: April 29, 2017
By: Paige Townley
Millions of people have turned to online shopping over the past few years, and that trend has grown to include grocery shopping. In fact, as people have searched for ways to save time, home grocery delivery services have gained in popularity just in the past couple of years. More and more people are ditching their weekly – or biweekly – trips to the grocery store and opting for home delivery services. “I love all things delivery,” said local resident Shauna Burrows. “Delivery services allow me to have more time with my kids and less time at the store.”
It’s no surprise why home grocery delivery services like have taken off with consumers. The Time Use Institute states that the average person spends about 41 minutes in the grocery store, and that doesn’t include the time it takes to get there, load the groceries in the car and then get them home and put them away. If you multiply that 41 minutes by the average 1.5 trips per week average, that’s more than 53 hours per year the average person spends at the grocery store alone.
In addition to saving time, which can help reduce stress, online grocery delivery services can also help consumers save money and better stick to a budget. Studies have shown that up to 30 percent of grocery store purchases are impulse buys. Not going to the store yourself means less opportunity for adding on unneeded items. “I find that I actually save money grocery shopping online because I’m only buying what I need,” adds Burrows.
While there are some potential drawbacks, including the fact that it does come with an added cost and some companies only deliver from certain stores, for many people the benefits far outweigh them. “I used grocery delivery services for the first time when I was sick and couldn’t go to the store,” says Birmingham resident Vicki Tingle. “It was so easy to do. I was really surprised. It’s great to use if you can’t go to the grocery store or just don’t want to go.”
While there are lots of grocery delivery services out there, here is the rundown on three delivery companies that have made a home in the Magic City.
Billing itself as “Birmingham’s personal grocery assistant,” Full Pantry is one of the newest grocery delivery services in Birmingham. Founder/Owner Madison Murphy started the company in early 2016. “I want Full Pantry to be as much of a ministry as a service,” she says. “In addition to delivering for customers who need help in saving time, I feel that I can help those who aren’t able to get out and do things like grocery shopping, whether that’s due to illness, inability to drive, or some other circumstance.”
Full Pantry delivers to the Greater Birmingham area, and unlike some other services, the company will deliver from practically any grocery store. “We can shop any grocery store the customer would like, and we don’t require grocery lists to be submitted a particular way,” Murphy says. “Customers can simply type their grocery list and email it to us. And there’s no contract or membership fee. I have some clients that use us once a week and some clients that use us every few weeks.”
Being a local small business, Full Pantry is also doing all it can to help other small businesses by also making deliveries from farmer’s markets, farms, and bakeries.
For more information: fullpantrybham.com.
KATs was founded in August 2014 by Maurice Mercer in memory of his mother, Kathryn “Kat” Jenkins. Because of an autoimmune disability, Jenkins had to retire from her job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham after many years of service. Her sickness actually took away her ability to perform many everyday tasks and activities, including going to the grocery store.
From this, KATs was born.
“At the time my mother needed a service like this, there was nothing,” says Mercer. “It was hard on us at that time to manage her grocery shopping for her, as my job at that time required that I travel a lot. We realized there was a real need for a service like this, especially for people who are too sick to manage grocery shopping on their own.”
Mercer established KATs as much more than a grocery delivery service – they also will pick up a prescription or prepared meal at a requested location. There are no monthly fees – the cost for the service is based on the total amount of groceries purchased and number of stops needed – and the company delivers to the Birmingham metro area.
“We try to make it as easy as possible for our customers,” Mercer says. “Customers don’t have to be tech savvy to use our services. They can phone, email, text or even fax their order to us, or they can go on our website. And we will go to any grocery store, even membership warehouse stores.”
KATs also does commercial delivery for small to medium-size restaurants, caterers and chefs and other small businesses. “We have a heart to help people,” Mercer says. “We aim to add convenience to the experience of getting food.”
For more information: Katsdelivery.com.
Birmingham’s biggest and perhaps most well-known grocery delivery service is Shipt. The company was first launched in 2014 as a same-day delivery company, but became a focused grocery delivery company the following year after Shipt Founder Bill Smith made a visit to the grocery store with his wife and two small children. “He quickly realized the need for something focused on grocery delivery,” said Shipt Outreach & Events Team Lead Julie Coop. “That is when we switched gears to focus on grocery delivery, and we made our first delivery in May 2015.”
Shipt focuses on customer service through the Shipt app, which is where customers select their groceries, choose the delivery option that best suits their needs and checkout. “We like to think of what we do as a person to person experience,” Coop says. “We are a tech company, but we focus a lot of time on coaching our shoppers to provide excellent customer service to our members.”
Today, Shipt has members in 35 cities across the country. Specifically in Birmingham, Shipt offers grocery delivery from Publix, Whole Foods and Western Supermarket – and the company is always looking to add to its platform. While Shipt doesn’t accept store coupons through its app, they are most always running their own sales. The company also, through relationships with CPG partnerships, offers rewards for purchasing multiple items from the same brand or category.
For more information: shipt.com.