Personal Finance

When does it pay to get it delivered?

Image Source | Getty Images

Good news: You no longer have to leave home to get key items such as groceries, booze and pet food. New "get it now" services allow you to have them delivered right to your door, often the same day (if not the same hour).

"You don't have to go shopping; somebody does all that work for you and schlepps it to your house," said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester Research. "There are pros for the customer."

The catch? You may be stuck at home for a fixed window of time, waiting for it to be delivered. And you may be charged a membership fee or a premium for the service.

We ran the numbers on more than a dozen services, offering door-to-door delivery of everything from laundry to liquor, to see which ones are worth it.

By Lucy Maher, special to


Source: Boxed

Want to shop the aisles of Costco or BJs Club without having to actually, well, shop the aisles? Boxed, a new app that sells hundreds of items found at Big Box retailers, lets you do just that. The Edison, New Jersey-based company, which just raised $25 million, ships in two days to all 50 states. Spend the minimum dollar amount (which varies by state) and Boxed will pick up the postage.

Instacart lets you tap into a network of personal shoppers who will take your order, buy the groceries at local stores, and deliver them to you at a time you schedule. Delivery charges range from $3.99 to $5.99. Up and running in 15 cities, including Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

You already use Google to search. Why not search and shop? If you live in areas around San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, you can. Google Express will deliver your order same day, gratis, if you spend $15 at a handful of retailers including Whole Foods, Target and Costco. The catch? Membership fees run $10 a month or $95 a year.

If you live in certain areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York City, you can also tap into Amazon's Fresh app and shop. The catch: annual membership is $299. (It includes Amazon's Prime shipping service.) If your order is for more than $35, delivery is free. Late-day orders are delivered the next morning.

Pros: Competitive pricing, and shopping while you feed the baby or take that conference call.

Cons: Delivery fees aside, you're restricted to inventory supplied by the network of stores affiliated with each service. Those picky about produce need to trust the shoppers on the other end.


Source: Drizly

Dinner party running dry? Thanks to these apps, gone are the days of dashing off to the liquor store just as dessert is served.

Drizly lets you enter your Zip code, shop and pay with a credit card or PayPal. Forty minutes later your beer, wine or liquor is at your door, along with a deliverer who will scan your ID. Some shops add delivery fees. Available in 12 cities, including Boulder, Denver and Seattle.

Minibar operates much the same way as Drizly, but with a network of drivers that shop at stores close to you. There's a $25 minimum with delivery that's under an hour. Available in 11 locations, including New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Palm Beach, Fla.

Pros: No missing the party.

Cons: Delivery fees. And a bad hangover.

Pet Food

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Rely on apps such as Amazon's Wag and Chewy to keep Rover's kibble stocked and he won't get hungry.

Spend $49 and get delivery on dry and wet food, flea and tick treatments, cleaning and grooming products and toys within a day or two. Save 5 percent or more when you auto-renew your purchases at and get 20 percent off of that day's order when you sign up for autoship at Available across the U.S.

Pros: No more lugging heavy sacks of pet food to and from the car.

Cons: Huge boxes as packaging.

Laundry/Dry Cleaning

Source: Washio

Put down that iron and download these apps if you want clean-pressed clothes on demand.

GetWashio. Those in the Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas who dislike doing laundry are in luck. They can tap into this app and have their cleaning picked up and delivered the next day. Wash and fold is $1.60 per pound, and blouses and dress shirts are $6. Feeling altruistic? Washio will take your discarded clothes and deliver them to local charities.

FlyCleaners. Call it the Uber of dry cleaning for those in the New York City region. Log onto the app and it will tell you how long a messenger will take to pick up your clothes. Accept the time, then specify your preferences (such as starch, green detergent) and your desired return time. Laundry is $1.15-$1.25 per pound, depending on location, and dry cleaning ranges from $4.50 and $12. A $4 surcharge is applied to orders under $15.

Pros: Outsourcing an oft-hated chore.

Cons: Price.


Source: Stitch Fix

Does the thought of entering a department store send you running? With these apps, you can get tailor-made clothes without leaving your house.

Stitchfix. Billed as "your partner in personal style," this app serves up a personal style profile. Once filled out (a $20 charge applies), a team of personal stylists picks five clothing items aligned with your taste, budget and lifestyle. Buy any of the five, and your $20 will be deducted from your delivery. Buy all five, and get 25 percent off. Return what you don't want in a prepaid mailing envelope.

Mac and Mia. Children outgrow clothes fast, but who wants to continually run to the store? This app works much the same way as Stitchfix, but for infants to 6-year-olds. There are no stylist or shipping fees; pay for what you want and return the rest in a prepaid shipping envelope.

Pros: Waiting in line is a thing of the past. Especially good for folks who like surprises.

Cons: While your personal stylist has style, it might not always be your style.

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