A review of Charleston's Instacart
So a new service offering to deliver your groceries from Charleston-area stores directly to your home, called Instacart, just launched this summer. Being the lazy, hate-to-leave-my-house person that I am, I went ahead and gave it a try. (Try it for yourself using the code ABCCharleston to save $10 on your first order of $35 or more!)
How it Works
Instacart delivers groceries from Publix, Whole Foods, and CVS in the Charleston area (as of when this article was written). They do same-day delivery and let you choose a delivery time that’s convenient to you. They charge a yearly membership fee of $149 (which works out to roughly $12.41 a month), which gets you free grocery delivery on every order over $35 (they offer a 14-day free trial before the membership fee is charged). You can order as often as you want.
I loved how convenient the whole process was. I ordered at 4 p.m. for delivery between 9 and 10 p.m. Around 8 p.m. I started getting text message updates that let me know my shopper was at Publix and was beginning to shop for me. If there were any issues with what I had ordered (i.e. if they were out of something), my shopper texted me to ask if certain substitutions were acceptable. He arrived at my house right around 9:15 and was very friendly. Much like the Uber / Lyft apps, I was given the opportunity to give him a tip which was auto-calculated based on percentage. It was a pretty seamless experience.
Having used other “order groceries online” type programs, I was worried the online shopping experience would be bulky or confusing. However, they break it down really nicely and it’s actually kind of fun to use. You can shop by specific food item, brand, or category, and they even give you the option to shop in bulk or the specialty food items. They differentiate between regular and organic in the produce, and you have the option to purchase name brand or generic products, which is also nice (because you can see the price breakdown right there).
The site also gives you the option to include substitution preferences for all your items in case they were out of stock. The site offers its own recommendation for replacement items, or you can choose to have the item price refunded instead.
• User-friendly online shopping experience
• Instacart also offers a number of “exclusive coupons” which takes into account the in-store promotions and brand partner promotions that are available so you can save money.
• They claim to choose the freshest produce available
• 14-day free trial before you have to commit to the membership fee
• It’s awkward not being able to choose produce for myself
• You have to commit to your delivery time. If you’re not home they leave your stuff on the front stoop, so any refrigerated items you have might go bad.
• You can’t use manufacturer’s coupons within the app
• They only offer Publix, Whole Foods and CVS. No Harris Teeter, Bi-Lo, or (my personal fave) Trader Joe’s (at least right now).
Try it for yourself using the code ABCCharleston to save $10 on your first order of $35 or more!
Sydney Gallimore is a cat-loving food writer who's lived in Charleston for almost 10 years. Her life is fueled by meals at various restaurants around the Holy City, iced coffee, and craft cocktails.