The on-demand economy: Here’s what happens when groceries go digital

Mindset Digital
Mindset Digital // March 28, 2017

We put three online grocery services to the test. Here’s what went down.


For some time, a bevy of startups have offered to ship pre-prepped but uncooked meals right to your door. Blue Apron and HelloFresh are the better known options in this space, but they are facing competition from services like Amazon Prime Now, which will deliver goods to you in under two hours, or Postmates and UberEATS, which send out drivers to your favorite restaurants to order and then deliver the meal to you.

But the service that may have the most impact on your daily life is online grocery picking services, where you fill out your order online and let store employees do your shopping. You just pull up to the store, call a number and they’ll bring your groceries out to you.

But can this service really replace your current grocery visits? Will the employees take the same care in choosing produce, for example, or gauging the freshness of an item in the deli before choosing it for you? (At least many chains have phased out the live lobster tank.)

We wanted to see what happens when groceries go digital, so three of our team members put local stores to the test. Here’s what they found:

Walmart FTW

Morgan Mulgrew

I loathe going to the grocery store. In a world where everything can be pre-ordered, picked up or delivered, a trip to the grocery store now seems so inconvenient, costly and time-consuming. I was skeptical about trying online grocery shopping, but was willing to give it a shot if it would save me time and money.

Enter Walmart Grocery

Walmart Grocery gives you access to a full grocery store and associates who do the shopping for you. Order your groceries, schedule a pick-up time, pay and collect the deliciousness. This solves the “time-consuming” part of my grocery shopping hatred.

I didn’t shop impulsively

I typically make a grocery list before shopping, but end up grabbing unplanned items from the shelves (because cookies are tasty). This increases my spending dramatically.

When ordering online, I used the search bar to select only the items on my list. I wasn’t tempted to purchase extras. This saved me at least $50—another awesome perk.

The pick-up was seamless

With a location right on my way home from the office, the convenience of the pick-up was unreal. I called when I was 15 minutes away and the associate prepared my order. When I pulled up, I was greeted cheerfully and all of my groceries were loaded into my trunk. I didn’t even have to get out of the car! I signed a receipt (which was emailed to me) and was on my way.

The order was correct

I couldn’t believe it! Everything was there, exactly as I had ordered. Brand names and generic, produce, toiletries, pantry items, everything was correct. None of the items I ordered needed a substitution, but if items are ever sold out, they will call and ask how to proceed with the substitution or removal of the item. Insert my “shocked” face.

“You ordered produce online?”

Yep, I sure did. I was concerned an associate wouldn’t take the time to check the ripeness of the items like I would if I were there. I ordered red peppers, yellow peppers and broccoli, and was extremely pleased with what I received. I probably would have made the same choices had it been me doing the shopping.

The verdict

Walmart for the win. The online grocery saved me time, money and hassle. While there are a few downfalls, like a short time window for same-day pick-up and the inability to order less than a pound of meat and cheese from the deli, I was overwhelmingly pleased with the experience.

Morgan Mulgrew is a LinkedIn Specialist at Mindset Digital. She coaches clients, leads workshops and gives keynotes on using social media effectively in the digital age.

Check out Kroger ClickList

Lisa Pence

Contact Lisa Pence at 614-591-4006

I love to cook, but I’m not one for grocery shopping. In my perfect world, ingredients would just appear whenever I wanted them. But since I’m not a wizard, I need to have some kind of plan in place to maximize efficiency.

Technology has opened up a whole new world for me as a working mom of three: online grocery shopping is an appealing option. It’s win-win. I avoid the weekend chore of going to the grocery store, finding my items, waiting forever to pay and loading up groceries into the car, and instead get to spend more time with my family.

My reservations

I have to admit, although it sounds promising, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away. I had my reservations:

  • I didn’t have the freedom to change my mind while shopping
  • The quality of produce or meat picked by someone else would be compromised
  • There has to be a catch and I didn’t want to find out what it was
  • I thought it would take too much time to place my order

But, I decided it was time to put my doubts aside and try out Kroger ClickList.

Kroger: off to a good start

Since ClickList is connected with your Kroger Shopper’s Card, your recent purchases appear on your screen. With a few clicks, I was able to add my weekly staples and complete about 70% of my shopping in under five minutes—not bad!

Then I continued to click as I went through the weekly ad to plan my dinners. Within 15 minutes I finished my shopping, selected a pick-up time and checked out.

Of course, as the day went on, I realized I needed to add a few more items. No problem: just a few more clicks and I added to my existing order. Done.

The pick-up

The next day, I pulled into the ClickList parking area and called the number on the sign. Five minutes later, a friendly Kroger employee came out. First she went over items that weren’t available (only two) and what they used to substitute them. Both substitute items cost less than my original items. I agreed to the change, signed an iPad and waited a couple minutes as she loaded my trunk with my groceries.

A good grocery kind of mood

Unpacking was pleasant. Since I was only gone for 10 minutes and I didn’t have to search for groceries or wait in line to pay, I was in a good mood. As for the meat and produce, I was impressed. Both were fresh and appealing to my eye.

A new day has dawned

I have used Kroger ClickList every week since and have plans to try Walmart and Giant Eagle next. I’m thankful for the time-save and I know I’ll keep using it (even if it costs $5). I never realized how much time I wasted thinking about and carrying out the dreaded grocery shopping until now—time that I’ve gotten back to enjoy my weekends.

Lisa Pence is a Client Support Specialist at Mindset Digital. She ensures the account management team operates efficiently and customizes work to meet client needs. 

Good times at Giant Eagle

Angela Solomon

Angela Solomon

I hate going to the grocery store. The kids whining and begging for treats and my own impulse buys combine to make one very stressful experience. By the time I make it to the checkout, only half the cart is what I really need, and the rest is junk. This doesn’t help my wallet or my waistline. I decided to give Giant Eagle’s Curbside Express a try to see if it could help.

Spoiler: It did.

Order up

The Curbside Express website is clean and easy to navigate. I love that you can flip through the weekly sale ad and shop directly from it—a great tool for us bargain shoppers. It keeps track of previous shopping trips too, making it easy to drop staples into my cart for my next order.

Checking out

I scheduled pick-up through the checkout page, which displays the full week’s available times in half-hour increments. It’s as simple as clicking a button. Then there’s an option to pay online or in store. I paid at the store so I could turn in coupons and make sure everything was correct.

Checking in

About two hours before my scheduled pick-up, a member of the Curbside Express team called me. They filled me in on what they were out of and what substitutions they could make. They even brought to my attention that an item I ordered was on a buy one, get one free promotion. Niiice.

Picking up

When I arrived at the store, I pulled into the designated lane out front and called the number posted clearly marked signs. Within five minutes a friendly staff member was at my car with a cart full of groceries. He had a handheld register and speedily reviewed my purchases with me. They even automatically put my purchase on my Giant Eagle Advantage Card. He loaded my groceries into the car and I was on my way.

I’m a convert

Less than 15 minutes at the store and I had a car full of good, healthy food. The meat and produce were beautiful. I survived, all with no temptation or whiny kids. The best part is that my grocery bill has been cut nearly in half. I haven’t been back to the store other than for quick stops since then.

My weekly shopping is all online now.

Angela Solomon is an Executive Administrative Assistant at Mindset Digital. She manages executive and client scheduling, travel and events.