Shopping In The Year 2023

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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14 Responses

  1. Reformed Republican

    My wife and I tend to do a mixture of curbside pickup from our regional grocer and delivery from Wal-Mart. She has issues with large crowds, so shopping is unpleasant for her. We also get a lot of stuff from our local Asian market, which we have to get in person. On the other hand, it is usually not as crowded as the other two stores.

    I guess we are fortunate, because I have heard lots of horror stories about how bad Amazon delivery has gotten, but we have not had that issue here. Stuff typically gets here in 2 days, sometimes next day. There is not much we get through Subscribe & Save, just because it is hard to get the timing right.Report

  2. Susara Blommetjie

    This is rather appropriate, since I work as platform/backoffice programmer for a groceries delivery app. We have done restaurant deliveries for years (ie Uber Eats competitor) and rolled out our grocery extention last year October, partnering with one of our major groceries retailers.

    So all these issues you mention – items marked out of stock that are actualy in stock, alternative item picking and how to handle the complexities on the price differences, etc – these are the bread & butter (ha ha) of my work day.

    These are not simple issues to get right. Regarding out of stock items, for instance. Stores really don’t want to annoy their walk-in customers by having all the stock gobbled up by the delivery customers.

    They also don’t want pickers, rushing to make their very tight deadlines (guaranteed delivery in 60 mins) to be running up and down the aisles pushing grandma out of the way to grab that last bag of tomatoes.

    So they reserve rather wide margins by marking items as out of stock in the app even while there is stock available, so the physical shelves don’t run empty.

    As for the altermantive item pricing. In our case we charge the customer upfront for the most expensive of the main/alternative item. Should the less expensive one ultimately be picked, we automatically refund the difference into a credit wallet. This credit is applied automatically at the next purchace. Should the customer wish, we can pay it out into a credit card account.

    Major fight amongs the developers: is it ‘grocery’ or ‘groceries’?Report

  3. Michael Cain

    The subscription software at Amazon offers to let me subscribe to some of the oddest things. Men’s underwear, for example.Report

  4. Merrie Soltis

    Kroger’s pickup is terrible. I finally had to turn off substitutions because they were ridiculous. Sure, if I need flour I don’t mind paying for a premium brand instead of the store brand. But I want Coke Zero. In the bottles. Not Diet Coke or Cherry Coke (shudder) and not in cans. And it irritates me to no end when they don’t have THE ONE ITEM I NEEDED that prompted me to place an order. I once showed up to be told they didn’t have my paper towels. I asked the girl at the pick up “You mean you don’t have a single pack of any brand of paper towels in that whole store?” And God bless her, she went in and got me some. During the pandemic, they wouldn’t let you order toilet paper, cat litter and several other absolutely essential items, which defeated the whole purpose of doing a pick up if I have to go in the store anyway.

    Funny story about Amazon subscribe and save. I’ve been pretty happy with it. Some items have become unavailable, which sucks. I need to be more careful about watching those price fluctuations. But normally, it’s great. I edit it every month so I don’t get stuff I don’t need. Except for when I was in the hospital. I didn’t have access to a computer to say “Don’t send!” Amazon boxes kept showing up at my house while I was attached to a ventilator and my poor friend had to keep hauling them in the house. I had so much shampoo by the time I got home I didn’t have to reorder for over a year!Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Merrie Soltis

      A few weeks ago I got a series of texts on my phone telling me that the local Kroger’s chain was making a variety of substitutions in my pick-up order and prompting me to respond if I didn’t want the substitute. I didn’t have a pick-up order. My initial thought was that someone had gotten a phone number wrong, and was going to be very unhappy when they got their order. Then I noticed that the response link actually went to a URL in Croatia and decided that it was just a more-clever-than-usual phishing attempt.Report

  5. Saul Degraw

    1. I have a thing about being able to select my own produce so we still go to the Farmer’s Market and Supermarkets. However, some former whole salers went to the public during the Pandemic and still do home delivery. We like Four Star Seafood for example.

    2. Amazon Prime is still fine in major cities.Report

    • Hank Kitterling in reply to Saul Degraw

      I’ll interpret that to mean “Amazon Prime” is still “fine” in NYC, San Francisco and LA (and of course the District).
      And that it is “not fine” in, say, Atlanta, Pittsburgh or Austin.Report

  6. Chris

    I don’t know if this is still the case, but in the middle of the pandemic (maybe Spring of 2021), I was talking to a guy who’s middle management at HEB corporate in Austin, on a team that works on their app, which includes their curbside pickup. At the time, he said, HEB was losing a bit of money on each curbside pickup, which explains why they so limited slots that back then that you might not have been able to get one for a couple weeks.

    We’ve been shopping in the store basically since the summer of 2020, once masks became easily obtainable, because curbside at our HEB was such a pain in the ass.

    Also, absolutely no problem with Amazon delivery.Report

    • Hank Kitterling in reply to Chris

      HEB’s probably losing money on each curbside pickup, because there’s less “impulse buys” — which have always been a grocery store’s way of making bank.
      Loss-lead on the turkey, make it up on the fixings.
      Sell Milk (which people buy weekly), and have lots of “fun” foods that you wouldn’t buy if you didn’t have them within viewing radius while hungry.Report

  7. Jaybird

    I *LOVED* having our Costco order delivered to the house. They usually included a couple cases of water, a couple cases of Hecho en Mexico Coca-Cola, and a couple of cases of iced tea. Each one of those boxes was a one-trip from the car. So when we went to Costco, it was usually a 7+ trip!


    Having those delivered to the house meant that, whammo, open the door and they’re right there.

    Now I go to Costco by myself again. I like walking up and down the aisles and getting the samples and being surprised by how they may have the chicken wraps or some new and improved popsicle in the freezer aisle.

    But I hate the days when I have to get water and Coke and tea. That’s going to be a 7+ trip.Report

    • Hank Kitterling in reply to Jaybird

      “I want Food!”
      Do I want a car with that?
      If NO, I’m walking the Costco chow home, so I’m limited to about 50 lbs, of less melty things.
      If YES, I need to schedule a car ($$$), walk to the car, drive to Costco, pick up at least 200 lbs…

      I help the driver take my stuff up to my door. That’s one flight. It’s another flight to my first floor.
      And I have to supervise the shopper in the store, which can be annoying during worktime.

      Delivery is about 20 minutes of time. Walking groceries home (or using car), is easily 2 hours, total.Report

  8. Slade the Leveller

    I live 2 blocks from a grocery store and very seldom shop at Amazon out of principle. If I want to buy food, it’s a 5 minute walk. 3/4 of a mile away is an Aldi, also easy walking or biking distance, or a short drive if I’m loading up. I’ll leave the delivery to you 1%ers. 😉Report

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