I tried Walmart and Target’s competing grocery pickup services, and Walmart is by far the better option for weekly shopping trips

Walmart grocery pickup
Curbside pickup has boomed in the year since COVID-19 made customers less comfortable going inside of stores.

Walmart grocery pickup

Experts predict that the shift to online grocery delivery will continue even as the pandemic subsides, and COVID-19 advanced the industry several years.

Walmart grocery pickup

I’ve been doing curbside pickup at Walmart since the summer using Walmart’s app, and I think it’s the best way to shop for groceries.

Walmart grocery pickup
eople talk outside a Wal-Mart Pickup-Grocery test store in Bentonville, Arkansas, June 4, 2015.

The Walmart app prompts you to select the closest location for pickup, or enter your address for delivery.

Walmart Grocery pickup app

You select a one-hour time slot, at least one day in advance but up to more than a week in the future. There’s a specific time just for at-risk customers.

Walmart Grocery pickup app

Walmart’s app is centered around groceries and divides them by category, which makes going through a list of what I need easy.

Walmart grocery pickup

It’s easy to add items to your order and adjust quantities quickly.

Walmart grocery pickup

Once your order is created, you have until about midnight the night before to continue adding to your list. For me, this is one of the most useful features, because I almost always realize we need something else before it’s actually time to pick up groceries.

Walmart grocery pickup

Because groceries are ordered a few days in advance, sometimes the exact brand of an item isn’t available on pickup day. Walmart suggests a substitution and gives the chance to approve it. I’ve always had good luck with this.

Walmart grocery pickup app

When the order is ready, Walmart sends a text alert and asks you to check in so a worker is ready to bring it out when you arrive.

Walmart grocery pickup app

A side area of the parking lot was marked for grocery pickup. When you pull into a spot the app knows you’ve arrived and prompts you to enter your spot number and color of your car.

Walmart grocery pickup

Walmart shoppers use small carts to pull crates with grocery orders.

Walmart grocery pickup

My Walmart has about ten spots, and they’re occasionally full when I show up to get my order. While I’ve sometimes had to wait, it’s still much faster than I shop in-store.

Walmart grocery pickup

Masked shoppers come up to the driver’s window to double-check the name on the order with a handheld tablet that they carry.

Walmart grocery pickup

Once they’ve confirmed that you’re the right customer, a worker loads groceries into the trunk.

Walmart grocery pickup

Shoppers will usually bag groceries in your reusable bags if you bring them, but I usually just ask them to load groceries into my trunk to save time and bag them myself at home.

Walmart grocery pickup

I also tried Target’s version of the same service to see which is better.

Target

Target calls their equivalent service “Drive Up,” and it’s free with no minimum order, compared to Walmart’s $35 minimum.

Target drive up grocery

Target orders are ready in two hours, so this service can be more of a last-minute shopping trip with less planning required than a Walmart order.

Target grocery pickup

Target divides products into nearly 20 different categories, with grocery as only one of them.

Target grocery pickup

Groceries are further categorized into produce, meat, and other groups that make finding them easier, although I found it took more time to find what I needed than on Walmart’s app.

Target grocery pickup

Target’s app seems more oriented around showing coupons and deals in the store, rather than suggesting staples I’d need to buy.

Target grocery pickup

The Target app also offers more information about each individual item, including reviews and where it is located in the nearest store. Walmart’s app is more minimalist, with bare-bones information about items.

Target grocery pickup

One of my frustrations with Target was selecting an item only to find out it was out of stock at my store. Walmart’s app makes it clearer when an item isn’t available without having to click on it and go to a separate page.

Target grocery pickup

When it’s time to check out, Target gives a summary of all your savings and coupons. It’s much easier to use coupons in Target’s app compared to Walmart.

Target drive up grocery

My order was ready in about an hour, which was very convenient.

Target drive up grocery

The pickup process was almost identical to Walmart’s. I put my car type and color in the app and told Target when I arrived.

Target drive up grocery

Target had a few clever additions I liked that I’d like to see Walmart implement.

Target drive up grocery

For example, the app asks you to choose where you’d like your bags.

Target drive up grocery

The other really smart feature on Target’s app isĀ giving each order a unique code, which can be shown to the employee through the window. This does away with the small amount of face-to-face contact in Walmart’s pickup system.

Target grocery pick up

Like Walmart, Target has a few designated parking spots for pickup.

Target grocery pick up

At my Target, the spaces are near the entrance to the store, while at Walmart they’re over on the side and workers have a separate store entrance.

Target grocery pick up

Target’s pickup was definitely faster than Walmart’s, both in the time between ordering and picking it and how quickly the worker put it in my car from the time we arrived.

Target grocery pick up

Despite that, I still prefer Walmart and will continue to use that service over Target.

walmart grocery pickup

Walmart’s pickup is more conducive to the way I order groceries: I can set an order up a few days in advance and add to it as I realize things I need. My grocery order is pretty similar week to week, so this works well.

Walmart grocery pickup

Target’s service might be more useful as a last-minute stop on the way home from work to pick up ingredients for dinner, rather than a replacement of a weekly grocery trip.

Target grocery pick up

Walmart also has better prices and a wider selection, including in its Great Value store brand.

Walmart grocery pickup

Target’s app is just not as centered on groceries as Walmart’s, and it makes the shopping experience more difficult and tedious.

Target grocery pick up

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter atĀ mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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A guide to Amazon Fresh, the online retailer’s grocery pickup and delivery service

senior ordering grocery delivery tablet kitchen
Amazon Fresh, much like Instacart, is a grocery delivery and pickup service.

  • Amazon Fresh is a grocery pickup and delivery service that lets you order groceries using the Amazon app or website.
  • To use Amazon Fresh, you need to live in one of the cities in which the service operates, have an Amazon Prime membership, and request an invitation.
  • Amazon Fresh offers free deliveries for orders of $35 or more in select cities.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Amazon may have begun as an online bookstore, but the retailer quickly scaled up to sell all manner of housewares, electronics, media, clothing, and more – today, there’s virtually no product category it does not sell.

What to know about Amazon Fresh

Case in point: Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s grocery pickup and delivery service, currently available in nearly two dozen US cities and some international locations. Using the Amazon Fresh website or the Amazon mobile app, you can place a grocery order online and have it delivered to your door or visit the store and pick up the completed order.

In general, most things you can find walking the aisles of a grocery store you can find and order through Amazon Fresh. That includes meats and deli items, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned foods, prepared meals, and more. The exact inventory of grocery items available for purchase will depend on your local area, though, since the products come from local stores that Amazon has partnerships with.

What_is_Amazon_Fresh 1
You can use the Amazon app or website to place Amazon Fresh grocery orders.

How to get Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh isn’t available everywhere. Because of the nature of the service, in which Amazon must nurture relationships with local stores, it’s available in more than a dozen US cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. To find out if it’s available near you, enter your zip code at the Amazon Fresh website.

In part to control the growth of the service and ensure Amazon can maintain adequate service quality standards, Amazon Fresh is currently available by invitation only.

Amazon Fresh is available only to Amazon Prime members, so you will need to start with that membership, which has a standard cost of $119 per year (for more information, see our guide to the costs and benefits of Amazon Prime). You are considered eligible if you have an Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime free trial, and Amazon Prime student membership. If you only have an Amazon Prime Video membership, though, you are not eligible.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can request access to Amazon Fresh at www.amazon.com/fresh. In most cases, you will probably not need to wait long for approval.

How much Amazon Fresh costs

Aside from the required Amazon Prime membership, the Amazon Fresh service itself has no ongoing subscription cost. It’s free.

Depending on the cost of your grocery order, though, you might need to pay a delivery fee. Orders under $35 have a variable delivery fee of up to $10, while $35 or more are delivered free. Some cities have a higher cap on free delivery; in New York, for example, you need to place orders over $50 to get free delivery.

How does HelloFresh Work? Here’s what you need to know about the meal kit delivery serviceHow to cancel your HelloFresh account and avoid getting chargedHow does Instacart work? What to know about the grocery delivery service powered by freelancersHow to cancel an Instacart Express membership if the grocery delivery service no longer fits your needs

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