This Woman Makes $20 an Hour by Going Grocery Shopping
If you like grocery shopping, you’re in luck.
If not, I understand. Who likes navigating squeaky shopping carts through crowded aisles and not being able to find the darn jelly?
But what if you got paid to grocery shop?
Destiny Frith does.
The 22-year-old Nashville resident is a shopper for on-demand grocery-delivery service Shipt, which means she buys groceries and delivers them to customers.
And, yes, “shopper” is part of her official job title.
When she first moved to Nashville, one of Frith’s Facebook friends posted about the job and the money she was making. Frith decided it would be an easy way to earn money while adjusting to her new city.
Although she’s since found a more permanent job as a full-time barista, she still works as a Shipt shopper eight to 10 hours a week to help pay off her credit card debt.
“It’s not anything too crazy, but $2,000 has been my max, and it added up pretty quickly after moving out of state,” Frith says. “Shipt is really helping [me] put a dent in that debt.”
Working for Shipt
When Frith finds time in her schedule, she sets her availability by hour between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The app sends her order requests, which she can then accept or deny.
Once she accepts an order, she receives the grocery list, an estimated shopping time and a recommended store based on the customer’s location. Shipt typically pairs with Publix, though ultimately it depends on the market area.
Frith pulls on her snazzy green T-shirt emblazoned with a spaceship. She received one for free when she first signed up, then two more when she hit 30 shops as a way of easing the pain of doing laundry. Wearing the shirt isn’t required, but it’s highly encouraged.
After she fills her cart at Publix, she heads to the checkout line and pays with the provided company card. She takes a photo of the receipt and uploads it, then takes off to make the delivery.
How Much Do Shoppers Make?
Shipt advertises its shoppers will make $15-25 per hour, which has been Frith’s experience.
She says she makes about $20 per shopping trip, which takes about an hour to accomplish.
With each order, Frith earns $5 plus 7.5% of the order total. Most orders are more than $35 because that’s when the customer receives free delivery.
The customer also has an option to tip after the delivery. The option automatically pops up on the app after the delivery, which Shipt hopes makes customers feel obligated to tip the shoppers. Frith says generous tippers make up for the more frugal ones.
Right now, Frith works eight to 10 hours a week with a goal of earning $200 to pay down her credit card debt of $2,000. She says that when she was really “hustling,” she worked closer to 30-40 hours a week and once earned nearly $700.
And as a Shipt shopper, Frith gets a free membership ($99/year or $14/month), which means if she gets too tired of shopping for other people, she can let someone else do it for her.
Of course, Shipt’s shoppers still have to pay for their own groceries, but this way they can watch Netflix while waiting for a tub of ice cream to be delivered to their front door.
Challenges of the Job
The biggest downside of the job is gas money. Shipt doesn’t reimburse shoppers for milage or the car’s wear and tear, so you’ll want to weigh your options.
Also, Frith only sees the price of an order before choosing to accept or reject it -- she doesn’t know what will be on the customer’s list. One of her fellow shoppers once had to pick up 24 cases of water!
She can’t peruse the list to see if it includes quirky, unrecognizable or tough-to-find items. She says pasta is always a tough one, with its various brands, shapes, sizes and colors, and once, she had to find cat milk.
“That’s milk… for cats… in the cat aisle,” she says. (Now you know.)
If the item just isn’t available, Frith can communicate directly with customers using the app to see if another brand or substitute item will work.
And delivery isn’t always the jam session in the car that Shipt advertises. Sometimes, Frith has to drive 40 minutes to make a delivery. Other times, she has to face the weather.
This past winter, Frith took advantage of a break in a snowstorm and accepted an order. When she dropped off the groceries, her Toyota Camry couldn’t make it up the customer’s icy driveway.
He actually hiked down, took the driver’s seat (that’s trust!) and maneuvered her car around. Though the customer wound up having to carry the cargo a good distance, he still tipped Frith for her efforts.
Pro Tips From a Shipt Shopper
Frith has experimented to determine if bigger or smaller orders rake in more money.
She’s found that bigger orders bring in more profit, but they take more time to fill.
Plus, she’s noticed bigger orders often earn her a $5-$10 tip, about the same amount she gets on smaller orders. In that case, she might choose to fill a few smaller orders in the same time it takes her to complete a big one -- earning more tips.
But she suggests that once new shoppers get the hang of it, they should try taking on more than one order at a time.
Frith says she’s conquered three orders at once. She fills the cart with the largest order and stocks two baskets on the bottom of the cart with smaller orders. She just has to make sure to keep the bags divided in her trunk.
“It's probably all pretty close no matter what you do,” she says. “I don't have any real strategy other than moving fast in the stores and doing my best to memorize where items are.”
How To Apply to Work for Shipt
Shipt is currently recruiting shoppers in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. More locations could be coming soon as the service expands.
You must be 18 years old, have reliable transportation (and a current driver’s license, of course), pass the background check and be able to lift at least 25 pounds -- for those cases of water.
Also required? “Knowledge of produce section.”
If you meet these requirements and think you’d like to be a Shipt shopper, submit your application online. After you apply, Shipt will interview you remotely through an app.
Once you’re accepted, you can start shopping.
And no matter what you do, always, always check for broken eggs.
Your Turn: What’s the most bizarre item you’ve found in the grocery store, and where did you find it?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money -- and surviving the move back in with her parents.