- I tried Target’s grocery pickup service to compare it to Walmart’s version.
- Walmart is better equipped for large shopping trips, while Target could replace a last-minute trip.
- Grocery delivery and pickup services have exploded over the last year.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Experts predict that the shift to online grocery delivery will continue even as the pandemic subsides, and COVID-19 advanced the industry several years.
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.
The Walmart app prompts you to select the closest location for pickup, or enter your address for delivery.
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’s app is centered around groceries and divides them by category, which makes going through a list of what I need easy.
It’s easy to add items to your order and adjust quantities quickly.
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.
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.
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.
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 shoppers use small carts to pull crates with grocery orders.
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.
Masked shoppers come up to the driver’s window to double-check the name on the order with a handheld tablet that they carry.
Once they’ve confirmed that you’re the right customer, a worker loads groceries into the trunk.
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.
I also tried Target’s version of the same service to see which is better.
Target calls their equivalent service “Drive Up,” and it’s free with no minimum order, compared to Walmart’s $35 minimum.
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 divides products into nearly 20 different categories, with grocery as only one of them.
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’s app seems more oriented around showing coupons and deals in the store, rather than suggesting staples I’d need to buy.
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.
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.
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.
My order was ready in about an hour, which was very convenient.
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 had a few clever additions I liked that I’d like to see Walmart implement.
For example, the app asks you to choose where you’d like your bags.
The other really smart feature on Target’s app is 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.
Like Walmart, Target has a few designated parking spots for pickup.
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’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.
Despite that, I still prefer Walmart and will continue to use that service over Target.
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.
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.
Walmart also has better prices and a wider selection, including in its Great Value store brand.
Target’s app is just not as centered on groceries as Walmart’s, and it makes the shopping experience more difficult and tedious.
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