This Woman Makes $17.50 an Hour Grocery Shopping in Her Free Time

Destiny Frith, 22, of Nashville, a shopper for Shipt, makes her way to her car after shopping for a customer at Kroger in Franklin, Tenn.
Destiny Frith, 24, of Nashville, a shopper for Shipt, makes her way to her car after shopping for a customer at Kroger in Franklin, Tenn. William DeShazer for The Penny Hoarder

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016.

If you like to go grocery shopping, you’re in luck.

If not, I understand. You’re stuck 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 24-year-old Nashville-area resident is a full-time shopper for on-demand grocery delivery service Shipt, which means she picks up groceries and delivers them to customers.

And, yes, “shopper” is part of her official job title.

When she first moved to Nashville in 2015, Frith read one Facebook friend’s status 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.

Since then, Frith has worked other jobs alongside Shipt. But recently, she decided to transition to being a full-time Shipt shopper.

“You don’t get paid vacation or benefits,” she says, comparing Shipt to her past jobs. “But the flexibility and the fact that you can make so much hourly makes up for it.”

The Logistics of Being a Shipt Shopper

Each day, Frith sets her availability by hour. She prefers to work between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The app then sends her order requests within that timeframe, which she can choose to accept or pass.

Once she accepts an order, she receives the grocery list, an estimated shopping time and a designated store based on the customer’s location. In her area, Shipt shops typically occur at a Publix or Kroger.

Frith pulls on her snazzy green T-shirt emblazoned with the Shipt logo, required for all shoppers. 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.

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 Shipt Shoppers Make?

Groceries are pictured in the trunk of Destiny Frith's car.
Frith’s car is loaded with a customer’s groceries on February 3, 2018. William DeShazer for The Penny Hoarder

Shipt advertises its shoppers will make $15 to $25 per hour, which has been true to Frith’s experience.

Recently, she’s been making an average of $17.50 per shopping trip, which takes about an hour to accomplish.

With each order, Frith can see her estimated earnings in the shopper app, a combination of a flat fee and percentage of the order that varies by city. 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. Frith says generous tippers make up for the more frugal ones.

Right now, Frith works about 35 hours doing four-day weeks. Including tips, she takes home about $600 a week.

Each Friday, she cashes out.

Additionally, as a Shipt shopper, Frith gets a free membership (a value of $99 a year or $14 a month), which means if she gets too tired of shopping for other people, she can let someone else do it for her.

Of course, as a Shipt Shopper, you still have to pay for your own groceries, but this way you can watch “Stranger Things” while waiting for someone to deliver a box of Eggos to your front door.

Challenges of the Job

The biggest downside of the job is gas money. Shipt doesn’t reimburse shoppers for mileage or the car’s wear and tear, so you’ll want to weigh your options.

(However, during Frith’s Kroger runs, she scans her in-store fuel card and earns points for customers’ orders. She just filled up with gas the other day — 70 cents per gallon.)

Another downside is that 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 baby food is always a tough one, with its various brands, fruit-and-veggie mixtures and sizes.

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 you’re hoping for. Sometimes, Frith has to drive 40 minutes to make a delivery. Other times, she has to face the weather.

In early 2016, 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

Destiny Frith, 22, of Nashville, a shopper for Shipt, makes her way to her car after shopping for a customer at Kroger in Franklin, Tenn.
Frith spends about 10 hours a week shopping with Shipt to help pay off her credit card debt.

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 to $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.

In short?

“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 currently operates in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

More locations could be coming soon as the service expands, especially with a recent purchase by Target.

To become a shopper, you should…

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a reliable vehicle that’s less than 15 years old.
  • Have an iPhone (iOS 8 or newer) or Android (4.4.2 or newer) phone.
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license and auto insurance with at least a year of driving experience.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Own an insulated cooler bag.
  • Know your way around the produce section.
  • Be able to lift at least 25 pounds.
  • Be able to avoid smoking on the job.

If you meet these requirements and think you’d like to be a Shipt Shopper, submit your application online. After you apply, you’ll complete a video interview through a third-party website app.

Once you’re accepted, you can start shopping.

And no matter what you do, always, always check for cracked eggs in the carton.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has a love-hate relationship with the grocery store.