On May 28, 2020, Aldi announced that it is expanding its curbside pickup service to 600 stores by the end of July, with no doubt more to come after that. The grocer had been piloting the program for a while, so this represents a full implementation of something that had been in the works.
Here’s what we know.
Aldi Curbside is Managed Through Instacart, But Aldi Employees May Be Doing the Shopping
There are two ways to access Aldi’s curbside pickup: through shop.aldi.us and through instacart.com. Both portals are run by Instacart, which has been overseeing Aldi’s grocery delivery service since it was first piloted in 2017. At the time of this post, Instacart requires a $35 minimum purchase and 5 unique items for both pickup and curbside delivery. That may change later, but for now the rules for both in that area are the same.
When you go in, you’ll select your groceries, and then decide whether you want curbside pickup or delivery. In our area, there is a difference in the fee structure between the two. With delivery, there is a service fee, a delivery fee, and a delivery tip. With curbside pickup, there is no service fee, no delivery tip, and the pickup fee is half that of a delivery.
As a simple example, here are two sample orders with the same products:
- Pickup: $35.22 subtotal + $1.99 pickup fee + $2.59 sales tax = $39.80 total
- Delivery: $35.22 subtotal + $3.99 delivery fee + $2.00 service fee + $2.59 sales tax + $5.28 suggested tip = $49.08
That’s a difference of nearly $10.
Pickup is a lot less expensive for several reasons, including the absence of a tip. Aldi shoppers online who have used curbside have reported that, in many (if not most) instances, Aldi employees — not Instacart workers — are doing the in-store shopping for curbside. Aldi employees cannot accept tips (fortunately, Aldi employees are well-paid compared to other retail workers) which is probably the reason they aren’t even listed as an option for curbside.
Curbside Prices Are a Mixed Bag
We’ve noticed that product prices on Instacart are often higher than the same prices in-store. The difference varies from pennies to a lot more, but be aware that you may pay more through the Instacart portal than you would pay physically going in.
On the other hand, there is at least one perk to Instacart that Aldi doesn’t offer in-store: coupons. Instacart offers coupons on some name-brand items, and those coupons do apply to name-brand products sold by Aldi. Most Aldi products are private label, so coupons only apply to a few products, but as I was writing this post I noted coupons for Aldi-sold products that included Pantene, Coca-Cola, and General Mills.
For most people, the increased Instacart prices will be greater than any coupon savings, but if you like the name brands Aldi carries, it’s worth noting.
Instacart and Aldi Will Tell You Where to Go and What to Do
When you check out and place your order through Instacart, you will receive notifications either through the Instacart app and / or text message. These notifications will tell you where to go and what to do when you get there. Once your order is assembled and you arrive, you’ll be able to notify the store where you’re at and a worker will bring your order to you.
Most Aldi stores are designating numbered curbside pickup areas like other stores are doing, so you’ll want to head for that part of the parking lot when you arrive. Your spot number will be part of what you’ll need when you signal for your groceries.
With curbside still a relatively new Aldi offering, it will take some time for both workers and customers to get familiar with it. But it does offer a new way to get Aldi products without setting foot in store, and for significantly less money than grocery delivery. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still have some fees, and also keep in mind that Instacart prices are often higher than the ones you’ll see in the aisles.