Delivery details every shopper and customer should know

From March 2020 through October 2021, I didn’t set foot in a restaurant and rarely went to the grocery store. I had everything delivered. First, it was out of COVID concerns, then it just became so easy. Too easy. It got to a point when I thought of grocery shopping it didn’t even occur to me to go to the store. I had the delivery. Most times it was just convenient, at best it was critical as I got sick with COVID and it became my lifeline.

Fast forward to November 2021 and I’m out of work. Picking up freelance journalism and writing work was easy enough while I created my own social presence. I just wanted something more. I decided to try being a grocery delivery person to see what the other side is like. I felt like I owed it to society to give back what they gave me, now that I’m vaccinated, boostered, and had recovered as much as possible from COVID.

I write this article to everyone on any side of the grocery delivery chain to help iron out a few kinks and make it a more efficient process for all of us.


The apps are super easy to use. You go through the items you want, select them, put down your payment method, choose a time frame, hit OK, and Viola, groceries will be at your door.

I learned a few things the hard way being on both sides of this so here are best practices from your delivery driver.

  • There is a 95% chance we are going to need to connect with you during the shop. Stores quickly get sold out of items and the distribution challenges are real. Just because the app says something is in stock doesn’t mean it is. Have your phone nearby so we can text you pics and questions about replacements. We spend 10-20 minutes waiting for a response from you because you selected “Contact me if the item is out”, and that’s putting our other deliveries behind while we wait.
  • Don’t want to be bothered? Then when you pick your items, put in what replacements you want. We won’t have to text and you don’t have to risk your shopper guessing what you want. Yes, it takes time to do that – and as a customer, I found it tiresome – but then I got 14 texts about replacements during a shop and vowed never again to leave gray area.
  • It’s okay if you choose “No replacements wanted”. It makes it easier on your shopper if they are sold out. From the shopper’s side let me tell you this – sometimes the exact item IS available, just in a larger or smaller size. You want 40 ounces of broccoli? They are out – but they do have smaller 20-ounce ones I could get 2 of for you. But since you don’t want replacements, I can’t do that without adding to the order and guessing if that’s okay with you. Just know a replacement doesn’t always mean veering from your favorite brand.
  • Make notes if you want paper or plastic bags. Make notes if you never veer from organic. To the person who told me they wanted “No green avocados, just dark firm ones”, It helped so much to get their order right.
  • You are getting a service delivered to your door after a person fought through aisles to find your items. We ran back and forth and up and down trying to get it just right. We bagged with delicate care. If you got good service, can you please tip? It’s not required, I know, but when you want 10 things from the store and we accommodate that quickly, why not throw a couple of bucks at the delivery person like you would if you ordered a pizza? If you ordered 3 cases of water, 5 soda cartons, 10 apple juice bottles on top of 30 other items, we have to carry that from the shelf to the cart to the car to your doorstep. You’d be amazed at how many people tip absolutely nothing for that kind of service. One order had me sweating like a workout. I got $12 for it and no tip for 90 minutes of work. Yet got a 5-star rating.
  • Even if you can’t tip, maybe leave a bottle of water outside for us? Or a nice thank you text of appreciation? So many people communicate in no way and we don’t know if they are happy, sad, or even alive at that point.
  • How much to tip? Well that is really up to you. I am a fan of always tipping 20% for any kind of service, but sometimes I might go to 15% on groceries if it’s a simple shop for me. Guilt usually puts it back up to 20%. I personally think 10% should be the minimum for people willing to tip. But I’ll tell you this – even $5 makes a difference.
  • If you know a large load of groceries is coming your way, make sure we have a path to walk it to your door. One house had 6 cars in the driveway close together. I had no choice but to walk on the grass that had stepping stones randomly laid out. I fell carrying a case of water and had to walk over a flower bed to get to the walkway. You don’t want broken eggs and we don’t want to break your eggs. Make a path.
  • If you liked the service and communication, you can make a person your “Preferred Shopper.” The more we get to know you, the easier the shopping process will be.
  • We don’t mind if you add items during the shop, I know I did it often when I was ordering groceries, but once we’ve shopped everything on the list and closed it out to process, we can’t add things in. So when you ask “pretty please” to get something extra, we might come out of our own pocket to make you happy. Can you reciprocate by adding that value to the tip? I’ve had two shops I’ve lost money on because I got the add-on items texted to me – not put in the app – and made it clear I was coming out of pocket for it. Both times no tip at all.
  • We get shops based on how you rate our service. If you had a bad experience with us, give us a chance to make it right before rating us terribly. We don’t know if you don’t want your milk bagged or not. My last delivery I ordered the guy literally threw the stuff down at my doorstep and provided a picture to prove the mess was there. I lowered his 15% tip to 10% for that. I didn’t rate him poorly and not tip at all.
  • Let us know if you are okay with earlier delivery. Some of us wake up early and wait for the timeslot someone chose to deliver their groceries. For example, one order had a bunch of medical emergency stuff for burns and cuts. But the window didn’t open for another two hours. I could have gotten that to them pronto, but “early delivery” wasn’t flagged.

With another variant of COVID out and communities still reeling from the impact of the previous versions, deliveries are going to stay strong. It’s a weird world when you first start, I know how odd it was for me to think I was being too lazy to go to the store. Now it’s normal. I genuinely enjoy getting items for people – especially when I see a delivery of balloons to a hospital or a list full of baby food items or an 80 item list that tells me I’m shopping for a large family for a week.

Drivers don’t control the price increase for ordering online and nothing in the list of charges you are getting goes directly to us – unless you tip. Some delivery services don’t reimburse gas so we’re putting wear and tear on our car and coming out of pocket for gas.

At the end of the day, I have a great side hustle that gets me out of my introverted world and helps people in my community. I get to go to one of my favorite stores several times a day and make people’s lives easier. That’s the non-monetary bonus. But we are doing this as a job and want to supplement our salaries. Following these simple steps, we can all make each other’s lives easier!


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