Raise your hand if you love grocery shopping. Now, keep that hand up if, in your typical week, you have plenty of time to go grocery shopping the way you like to. Hand still up? If so, this post is not for you.
Hands down? This post is ABSOLUTELY for you. You need to try the Walmart grocery pick-up service.
Before you say, “But I don’t shop at Walmart,” let me explain.
The tedium of multiple stops every week
Prior to this month, my grocery shopping routine consisted of stops at Target, Trader Joe’s, and Costco. Typically, I didn’t go to all three stores each week—but usually two of them. Working full time, Monday through Friday leaves me little time for grocery runs during the work week, so my grocery runs would always occur on the weekends, usually in the afternoon which, as you can imagine, means the stores are crowded and not-so-pleasant.
Earlier this month, a friend posted on Facebook that she’d tried the Walmaart grocery pick-up service and that it was “Awesome!” It was a particularly busy weekend, and the thought of devoting the 2-3 hours it typically takes me to get everything at the usual stores was daunting. I decided to see if Walmart even carried all the things on my list, and how easy it would be to set up a grocery pick-up. (And, to be honest, the $10 savings I could get on my grocery list by using my friend’s referral link was tempting, too.)
I’d tried to set up an Amazon Fresh grocery delivery order in the past, but found the online user interface a bit clunky and overwhelming. It took me a long time to scroll around and find the exact items I wanted (the search tool seems to return too broad of results) and the reviews on meats, eggs, and produce items often cited issues with freshness, bruising, and damage upon delivery. I knew if the Walmart ordering experience was similar, I’d quit immediately. However, to my surprise, it wasn’t.
The Walmart ordering process
Here’s the process I went through to set up my order.
Step 1: Choose a pick up time
When you first set up a Walmart grocery pick-up order, you reserve a one-hour window of time in which to pick up your order.
Tip: Depending on how high the demand is for pick-up orders (besides your own) is that day, and how late in the day it is, the windows may be limited or all reserved for the day you are ordering, especially if you are setting up your order late in the day. So for the best options, set up your order the evening before you want it, or early in the day.
Step 2: Add items you want to your cart
This is where the user-friendly interface of Walmart grocery’s website/app beats Amazon Fresh ten-fold. Just type the item you want to buy in the search bar, and quickly see all the available choices for that item available from the store. Add the quantity you want with a single click to your cart, and then search for your next item. The load time of each screen is fast, despite the plethora of options that load for you, and the search bar is forgiving and still helpful if you make a typo or misspelling.
Step 3: Pay for your items
Check out using your debit or credit card, and the subtotal of your items will hit your account as a pending transaction. (Be sure you add any referral or discount codes before you check out if you have those available.)
Step 4: Pick up your items
When your pick-up window approaches, you’ll receive an email or app notification telling you your items are ready for pick up, and asking you to check in when you’re on your way. There’s a single button in the email/app you can click, once you’re headed to the store. This tells the team to pack up your stuff and have it by the door.
“But wait! They aren’t getting my items together until then? My list is long! I don’t want to wait.” Fear not—here’s how things work. (I asked my associate.)
When you place an order, in the hour prior to your pick-up, there is a team of five shoppers in the store, each in charge of a part of the store’s items. Example: Freezer items, household goods, fresh meats and produce, etc. These runners receive a list of the items you want from their section, they gather them, and then bring them to the holding area, grouping all of your list items from throughout the store in one place. If they need to be refrigerated or stay frozen, there are cold cases and freezers in the holding area.
When you are on your way to your pick-up, they place all of the items for your order on a cart of crates and get ready near the door, so you can wait for as little time as possible once you pull up.
Once you arrive at the store, you’ll find reserved parking spots on one side of the store (look for the words “pick up” on that side of the building). The reserved spots have orange signs and are lettered. Park in a spot, and if you’re using the app, it will automatically tell the associates you’ve arrived. Not using the app? Simply call the number on the sign when you arrive and let them know you’re there.
A friendly associate (yes, really—they’ve all been super friendly so far!) will come out within 5-10 minutes, depending on how many associates are running carts out, and how many cars arrived before you. They’ll then go through your order with you. If there were any items they did not have, they’ll show you what the shoppers substituted the item with, and you can accept or reject the substitute.
They always substitute with items of higher value. (Example: I ordered a family-size box of Wheat Thins. They were out, so they gave me two of the smaller boxes, which totaled a higher quantity of Wheat Thins, but didn’t charge me any more than my initial order.) If you reject any items, they will come off of your bill immediately.
Once you’ve accepted your order, you’ll sign a mobile device, and the final price will clear your account.
I was curious about tipping. The first week, I tried to tip my associate but learned they aren’t allowed to accept tips, so the best way to help them if you receive excellent service is to leave a positive review in the customer survey if you get one via email.
Step 5: Enjoy all that time you just got back by not having to grocery shop.
Seriously. It’s amazing.
Further questions and information
Let me try to answer some lingering questions you might still have.
“What about the produce quality? Expiration dates? I’m picky about those things.”
Me too. Walmart guarantees excellent quality and freshness of items through this service and puts their money where their mouth is. So far, everything I’ve been given has been really fresh (like fresher than what I expected even being available at the store). My friend received one container of less-than-fabulous strawberries and was quickly given a $20 credit for the trouble!
“What if I forget something when I first shop?”
You have several hours after your initial order to add items or edit your initial order. After placing your initial order, you’ll get an email confirmation, and that confirmation will list the cutoff time to edit your order. This week, I remembered and added things five different times—it was no problem!
“What about bags?”
You can choose to have your items brought out in bags for 10 cents each, or un-bagged at no charge.
“I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, do they have a good selection?”
Yes. And really good prices. My family and I have been eating healthy foods, and I’m doing Weight Watchers. I’ve found fantastic food options, and cut my grocery bill by about $40!
“Can I get other items from the store besides groceries?”
You sure can! I’ve ordered shampoo, lotion, cleaning supplies, makeup—it was all in the app, and delivered to my car!
“What about Vons delivery? Or the new app-based delivery service, Instacart? Why aren’t you using those?”
Vons prices, even with a first-time delivery coupon like those floating around online, are substantially higher than not just Walmart, but Target as well. The cost difference is too great for me to consider it an option.
Instacart, which recently launched in Fresno and can deliver Costco, CVS, Smart & Final, and Petsmart items to your home, is also something I looked into. However, a $150 Costco run would have cost me $37 in fees and upcharges using Instacart, so that doesn’t seem like a viable option for regular use for me, either.
Will I ever grocery shop the way I used to before I found out about this service? I’m not sure. This is what I’ve needed to gain some time back in my already too-short weekend, and I absolutely LOVE it. I could kiss the person who planned this service all out. I won’t, but in theory I totally could.