Shipt shopper

Lakeland residents who have wanted to order groceries online and have them delivered to their home that day will get their wish starting June 21. Shipt, a Birmingham-based company owned by Target, will offer delivery in Lakeland from Publix, Winn Dixie, Target, GFS and ABC Fine Wine and Liquors.

The service, available in 150 cities nationwide (and more than 20 in Florida), is expanding to Lakeland, Ocala, Key West and Pensacola, Supermarket News reports.

Customers pay an annual subscription of $99 — in Lakeland, it will be $49 the first year — and get free delivery on orders above $35. Orders are made through the Shipt website or smartphone app (iPhone | Android) and the company says deliveries can be made in as little as an hour. A delivery fee of $7 is placed on orders under $35.

The Shipt site and app features sale items, but most items cost more when ordered through Shipt than if you shop at the store yourself. The company says the price difference covers the costs of picking, packing and processing.

A consumer reporter who ordered from Kroger via Shipt earlier this year and then shopped for the same items at the store said he paid $40.84 through Shipt and $35.34 when he did the shopping himself. He said that was the price difference he expected based on Shipt’s own claims.

Once an order is placed, a Shipt shopper goes to the store and selects the items. A messaging function lets the shopper communicate with the consumer if there are complications such as finding a substitute if an item is unavailable. Customers can also include substitute preferences when they make their order.

Tips are not required, but the company says 100 percent of tips go to the shopper.

A Shipt webpage that includes an employment application says shoppers can earn up to $22 an hour. Shoppers must be licensed and insured drivers at least 18 years old with a smartphone and a reliable vehicle no more than 20 years old.

Shipt said it would add 3,000 paid shopper jobs in Florida earlier this year when it announced its partnership with Target to deliver items including groceries, home goods and electronics.

In Lakeland, Publix Super Markets has expanded a curbside pickup program to four stores. Customers can order online and later drive up and have groceries loaded into their cars at Southgate, Lake Miriam, Highland City Town Center and the Lake Gibson Shopping Center. The service adds 10 percent to the cost of the order.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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