Third-party vs. In-house Delivery: A Guide to Informed Choice



Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker

Before all else, gratitude to every delivery person, whether in-house or third party, doing the essential work of keeping households safer and supplied in these times. I’m dedicating today’s column to the manager of a nearby Sprouts grocery store who personally drove my order to my door when an Instacart driver just couldn’t get the job done.

If your business or clients are weighing whether to fulfill delivery in-house or partner with a third party, my small experience is an apt footnote to the huge, emergent debate over last-mile fulfillment options. I’d searched all over town for scarce potatoes, finally arranging by phone with the local Sprouts market to hold their last two bags for me one morning, and texting the Instacart driver about where the spuds were being held. Next:

For whatever reason, the driver chose not to retrieve them, claiming the manager told them there was nothing being held for me. Not knowing whom to believe, I phoned the manager who confirmed the driver had never asked for the potatoes and, to my astonishment, told me he was going to bring the groceries to my house right away, himself.

“I feel really bad about this,” he said. “Sometimes Instacart’s drivers just go so fast, they don’t do a good job. It’s really important to me that my customers get good service and feel good about our store, especially with this hard time we’re all going through.”

And that’s the crux of…

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