Grocery delivery services have become increasingly popular and in high-demand thanks to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place requirements. Larger companies like Instacart, Shipt, Amazon Fresh and Wal-mart delivery have been BUSY and hiring shoppers in numbers. However, some shoppers using the national services have run into issues including difficulty booking a shopping or delivery slot due to high-demand, difficulty communicating with their shoppers, list items being misinterpreted or the unfortunate surprise in total bill amounts – as most of these services tack on an additional cost per item in addition to their monthly membership fees.
There is another option for grocery delivery that many may be less familiar with, and it offers multiple benefits for both shoppers and customers! Have you heard of Dumpling?
Dumpling is a company that provides individuals who would like to offer personal shopping services a powerful service system that provides for payment for orders, client interactions and bookings, and other business management tools yet allows the shopper to operate their own business as an independent contractor and make their own policies and pricing.
I recently learned of a local Dumpling shopper, Nicole, who is doing business as Sweet Pea Delivery and she is getting rave reviews.
The wonderful things about this experience beyond paying in-store price (no mark up), was Nicole’s constant communication with me via text and/or phone call about items and item substitution. She offered contactless delivery, but I wanted to meet her, so I did (& she wore her mask). I will definitely use her again! I love that it’s just her!K.M. – recent customer & Fresno resident
I reached out to Nicole to ask a few questions.
FresYes: What made you decide to become a personal shopper?
Nicole: I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my daughter first started actively crawling. With such an “exuberant” child, I have found it nearly impossible to keep up with everything I used to do, which involved food blogging, recipe development, recipe testing, photography, writing, social media scheduling, etc. I am hoping to return to some of that once she starts school, but working from home in a creative capacity with a child at home, just doesn’t work for me.
Anyway, Covid happened and my husband was furloughed. Having husband and child at home made it even less likely that I could work as a blogger from home and now I couldn’t even go to a coffee shop (or anywhere, really) to escape and do some writing. I was commiserating with a friend and she randomly suggested I try personal shopping (for one of the larger companies), just to have something to do outside of the house and perhaps earn a little money. Mainly out of curiosity, I signed up and gave it a try.
FresYes: So what was that like?
Nicole: My first day was absolutely terrible. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The company’s app was overwhelmed, the app was crashing constantly, there was no access to technical support for the shopper when the app was down because they don’t offer support by phone… only chat. My company card wouldn’t work at the check stand. It was a nightmare.
I persevered and made sure to (eventually) get the groceries to the customers that I had been communicating with (and had already developed a relationship with) while shopping. Of those two customers, the first turned out to be someone who went all through school with my mom and the second customer was home-bound and relies exclusively on grocery delivery since she lives alone and can’t shop for herself. She was so understanding of my being late and grateful that I stuck with it and got the food to her instead of giving up after all the technical difficulties. We talked for quite a while. We both cried. In fact, a few customers have caused me to tear up over the last few months. It’s crazy.
Anyway, It was the most stressful first day on a job I’ve ever had. I realized immediately that the major company I was shopping for seemed to care very little for its shoppers or customers. I worked my butt off, was physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of the day and had not made much money. Yet, I couldn’t wait to do it again.
FresYes: Wait, really? Why?
Nicole: The customers. I loved being out in the community and feeling like I was actually doing something to help during this crazy time. I loved shopping for people who couldn’t do it for themselves. I loved being their eyes and ears in the grocery store and helping them find replacements for what they needed at a time when shelves were half empty and everyone was panicking.
What I didn’t love was not being able to stay in contact with the customers, not being able to offer a repeat service when they asked if they could request me as their shopper from the major company’s app, and not being able to let them know when I saw what they had been looking for at a different store.
FresYes: So how did you get to where you are now?
Nicole: I learned about starting my own grocery delivery service utilizing Dumpling for scheduling and payment processing and it seemed like the perfect solution. Using Dumpling has been great and the company is VERY supportive and there’s definitely a community aspect that I really love. And here I am now running Sweet Pea Delivery!
FresYes: That’s awesome! So, what do you feel are the greatest benefits you’re able to offer customers who use your services?
Nicole: You get the same dedicated shopper every time who gets to know your preferences. Absolutely no price markups. You get the original store receipts. I offer upfront pricing with no hidden or extra fees. I can shop at ANY store or business that accepts credit cards. Markets, restaurants, coffee shops, delis, bakeries.
I can shop at multiple stores in one delivery. Need stuff from Costco, Trader Joe’s and La Boulangerie? Want an iced latte delivered from your favorite local coffee shop to enjoy while you’re putting groceries away? I can do that!
I pick great produce and know the right questions to ask to ensure you get exactly what you need. I understand food allergies and dietary restrictions and will be extra vigilant to make sure my purchases will be safe for your family. I’m always on the lookout for deals and hard-to-find items. I can let you know when I find something I know you’re looking for or I see your favorite sparkling water on sale.
By shopping with me you are supporting a local business and can use me to support other locally owned stores. Remember, I can shop anywhere!
FresYes: What type of safety precautions do you take when shopping?
Nicole: I wear a mask at all times when I am in a store. I constantly sanitize my hands before and after shopping and delivery. I sanitize my car and insulated bags. And most importantly, I offer completely contactless delivery.
FresYes: If someone wants to book your services, how far in advance should they do that?
Nicole: I do offer same day and next day delivery, but many of my regular clients prefer to book me a few days in advance because they know I can usually locate hard-to-find items with the extra time. I am very flexible and your best bet is to text or call me and we can decide together what will work best for your particular shopping needs.
While the Dumpling network is still expanding in our area, Nicole confirmed she knew of several shoppers like herself working independently and booking orders through the Dumpling app. At the time we spoke, she does have availability to take new clients as well. You can reach her by phone or text at (559) 791-8494.
So, if you’re local and looking to simplify life by placing a grocery order for delivery, check out Sweet Pea Delivery! And, if you’re interested in becoming a shopper yourself, Dumpling’s tools are available at your fingertips!
Author’s note: As a FresYes blogger I write about services, stories, businesses and resources I believe fellow Fresnans will appreciate. Articles are not sponsored or requested in any way – I’m simply sharing what I find and think you’ll love!