Score! The challenge of scheduling a grocery delivery in the greater Boston area

Congratulate me…after over a week of trying at all hours of the day and night, I was able to schedule a Peapod delivery two weeks from now. I haven’t had any luck with the same efforts at Whole Foods via Amazon Prime. In this area, unlike some other regions, no preference is given to long-term online customers like myself, though such courtesies as early store hours for seniors do nothing for us disabled customers who can’t get to the store.

You need to fill your online cart before you request a delivery slot, because it isn’t secured until you check out and pay. Someone else will get the slot if they pay before you do. These supermarkets announced weeks ago that they are expanding their delivery capacities but so far, I see no evidence of this. So it’s wise to think weeks ahead, and in the case of Peapod, place a large order. You can modify it until the previous evening, but if in the interim, they run out of your items and your total drops below the $60 minimum, you lose your slot.

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Congratulations - from the Eastern side of the Atlantic, where the issue is much as you describe.

We have given up trying to get a delivery slot with the two supermarket chains that we normally shop at. But are generally scoring a weekly delivery from our third choice chain (although this week, we are having to do “click & collect”. We’re trying, so far successfully, to plan ahead and always have three slots booked. This chain is limiting orders to 80 items so my plan for next week’s order is to stock up on tinned and dried goods and source fruit/vegetables/meat from small local shops who are delivering.

The various chains have introduced special “shopping hours” for the elderly and vulnerable (although their definitions vary) and some have introduced special hours for National Health Service employees.

I live a 15 minute walk to a fairly sizable department store, so I haven’t hit up delivery. I know it’s riskier vs relying on delivery, but I’m picky about my produce so this works better for me. Not having wait weeks for delivery is a plus too.

We also have special hours for the elderly, and a priority given to first line responders at various business still open.

My colleagues in Boston, and other regions of the US, have all shared their frustration with scheduling deliveries too. One such coworker said she found a good delivery time within 2 weeks that kept disappearing and coming back, which I assume is due to the high volume of users. Otherwise, the wait time for her was a 5 week delivery time line! Must be so frustrating. :frowning:

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Definitely the main frustration. I want to pick my apples, know that they are organic and do not come from a country of which I disapprove. Can’t do any of that with delivery. On the plus side, I have less chance of ending up dead by the end of this.

“Click & Collect” proved to be OK. We’d been given a two hour collection time frame. Got there to find they have a small separate building for this service (our usual supermarket branch doesnt offer this service so i had idea what to expect). There were about 6 cars queuing before us. When we were about #4, a guy came to check our name. In due course, it was our turn. There was a trolley filled with bags. Guy checked out name again. Then I loaded the stuff into the car and away we went. Although there was sort of social distancing, the guys werent wearing masks or gloves but I didnt feel particularly concerned about it. But good to know we are back to home delivery for the next fortnight.

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Yes, it it occurred to me that we have become hunter-gatherers, too, as our forepeople once were. We spend a large fraction of our time hunting for food or gathering it – except many of us do it online.

In my case, my standbys of March, Instacart and WF/Amazon, have been very hard (essentially impossible) to get deliveries from over the last 10 days. I have fallen back on some other options:

  1. Places such as Forge Bakery that do their own deliveries – you can almost always get milk, eggs, and butter from them, as well as a rotating selection of produce. They carry paper goods (including toilet paper) off and on. And, of course, they have bread and pastries. They only deliver to people near them, but other small operations near where other people live might also do the same.

  2. Delivery via Mercato from places such as Savenor’s and Broadway Market. You have to plan a couple of days ahead, but not a couple of weeks (except over the passover/easter period). You can get meat, fish, dairy, produce, etc., and paper goods.

Although these places do not offer the convenience of the one-stop-shop, they have proved reliable for me, and giving them business helps them stay open.

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Amazon Prime works quite good if you check 10 times an hour - there are often slots popping up for a few minutes each hour. Good hours for Instacart are around 1am or before 7am. We hadn’t problems to get deliveries from both of them over the last five weeks (but it is getting more difficult- and we really miss buy groceries by ourselves but going back to “normal” grocery shopping might be possible in 1-2 years.)

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You have more options than those of us suburbanites living closer to Rt 495 than 128. Where I am, there are lots of supermarkets but they are all Hannaford and Market Basket, neither of which do their own deliveries. But who knows… we may be on the brink of a whole new grocery paradigm. If Covid-19 becomes 20 and 21, malls and shopping centers will have to overhaul their business models. Before Roche Bros left Burlington, I often used the delivery service they operated entirely with their own staff. It was a large inventory and you could be very specific about things like the characteristics of the produce you ordered. They did an outstanding job fulfilling those requests. Supermarkets rely on a certain level of impulse purchasing. If they could devise a program that provided a virtual video tour of all the aisles and cases, they could sell the same amount, possibly with fewer in-store employees.

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Thanks for the Prime tip. I have been checking hourly, even in the middle of the night, to no avail. Peapod offers more inventory but if my order falls through, I’ll be trying Prime again. Geez, it’s like what I imagine addicts go through when they need a fix! My young neighbors would shop for me if I asked, but I don’t want to be responsible for adding to their potential virus exposure unless I have no other option. The husband is a first responder so he’s already in its crosshairs.

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I’m not currently shopping, but I am a Shipt shopper. The volume of shops in the last few weeks has been staggering, but it seems to be leveling off at a more manageable level lately.

Good luck…I’m in NYC and the only way I’ve managed to get wf prime slots is to refresh over and over a few minutes a time, maybe every half hour or hour. They do pop up but it’s pretty much one slot at a time, I accept whatever time they offer even if I’ve forgotten what’s in my cart (!) and even then I only secure the slot half the time

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I wonder how much where you lives impacts availability of delivery windows. Yes, sometimes you need to try a bit, but we have not had an instance where we were not able to secure an Instacart or Whole Foods delivery via Prime the same day we needed it.

That’s astonishing. I’m in Cambridge and I’ve pretty much given up on Instacart and WF/Prime over the last 10 days, so hard was it to get any window, let alone the same day. When did you last use them?

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yeah, I’m in Medford and we’ve mostly given up even trying for Instacart/Prime over the last two weeks. Could never get a slot.

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I placed a was able to place an Instacart order for Wegmans just this morning. Delivery isn’t until Thursday or first available, but I’m OK with that. I’ll just keep a running live list in the app (you can add and update items up until they start shopping for your order). Technically that could be any time between now and Thursday, but I find it is usually closer to the latter. I do find that Instacart will tend to have more substitutions than Whole Foods (probably because of inventory change from when you order to time of fulfillment), so it does help to have your phone handy and notifications turned on so you know when they start shopping. You can usually guide them to acceptable substitutions in real time.

We have placed 3 Whole Foods Prime Now orders over the past week, with the last one being on Friday. Previously I found times pop up toward the end of the day but not so much any more, possibly due to the stores closing earlier. We have had more success in the morning lately but times do come available through out the day. If you see a time, you have to have your cart ready and grab it immediately or it will be gone. This is specifically for WF via Prime Now. As far as I can tell there at least 2 other Amazon options. Amazon via Prime Now seems to come from a central warehouse rather than a store, but they have most of the same WF items. I haven’t seen a window for this options in weeks, and make sure to fill my cart with just Whole Foods fulfilled items for now. There is also Amazon Fresh, which I have never used but a neighbor has had success with that option. I’d love to hear from anyone who can clarify the differences better.

Windows were very difficult to come by a week ago but I feel like it has gotten a bit better. Sometimes you do need to refresh or check a lot. Scoring a grocery order is the new getting tickets to Springsteen. Best of luck.

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I saw nationwide retail grocery numbers today from either the WSJ or the Financial Times that def. indicated that general demand had leveled off some last week vs. the prior two weeks.

Thanks. How do you get to WF via Prime as opposed to Amazon via Prime? Inspired by you I just now attempted to place an order (but don’t know which service I am using), and struck out again. Yes, I’ll refresh, etc., but that stopped working out for me about 10 days ago.

Amazon Fresh seems a limited “members only” service. I asked to join last week, and they said they would contact me when spots opened.

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From the Prime Now home page, when you search for an item, when the options come up there will either be an Amazon or Whole Foods logo next to it. When you click add it will go into the cart for one of those stores. Also, from the home page you can select “Shop by Store” and you can select wither Whole Foods or Amazon to narrow the search results. It is easy (for me at least) to get confused between the 2. However when you go to check out you will see if you accidentally selected Amazon items as opposed to Whole Foods. Try building your cart this evening and then check back for times in the morning. That is when I have had luck lately. My deliveries source from the Fresh Pond location by default even though that is not the store closest to me.

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Thanks. Very helpful.

Inspired by someone’s post in another thread, I spent some time playing with the Baldor site for home delivery just now. First, it’s painfully slow to click on items or add them. It really tried my patience, and folks, I do remember dial-up. Second, the meat selection was not impressive and that was what I was going to use to get up to the $250 minimum for home consumer delivery. I generally go higher end on meats, almost always organic or at least grass-fed for beef. There is no organic anything (well, I checked chicken, pork and beef) available, and the grass-fed ground beef which I was completely ready to buy in a 5 lb quantity and portion and freeze does not indicate what percentage fat it is, which I find strange. So, I think we’ll abandon that route for now. Personally, I’m just not up to the challenge and don’t have the time to stalk the delivery services like y’all are describing, and don’t really want to support Amazon. I am fortunate to have nothing that makes me high risk, so I’ll just mask up, sanitize like heck, and continue supporting Market Basket every couple of weeks.

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Here’s a link to Ball Square Fine Wine’s service of delivering Katsiroubas’ produce boxes. I had no luck finding it on their website but it came up in a google search. I am learning good intentions and small business ownership does not equal easily-navigable website design!

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