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In the last several years, Amazon has single-handedly changed the e-commerce and home-delivery industry. Aside from being a jack-of-all-trades giant, they’ve made the era of near-instant gratification an online shopping reality.
Amazon’s Prime subscription offers free two-day shipping on most items and grocery delivery in mere hours. They are an industry giant, offering their own original content streaming on Amazon Prime Video and gadgets like Amazon Kindle, Amazon Echo, Amazon Alexa, Audible and Amazon Fire TV Stick (and Amazon Fire TV).
However, the reliance we have on Amazon has come to light in recent days of quarantine and isolation. Amazon’s response to COVID-19 has been proactive – it has increased grocery delivery services, health and sanitation protocols and prioritized essential deliveries (meaning you probably aren’t going to get that Twin Peaks box set in two days).
However, it is still working to meet a rapidly increased demand. Now is an ideal time for alternatives to Amazon to be noticed and many of them are making quarantine easier without breaking the bank.
Everything you need straight to your doorstep
Amazon is known for its expansive selection. You can buy computer supplies and fuzzy house slippers in one fell swoop, and often with just one click. But Amazon isn’t the only big-box option when it comes to general shopping. Jet.com offers a wide selection, from household and beauty products to gadgets and groceries, with free shipping on orders over $49 and free returns. Unique to Jet.com is its built-in ways to save money. Adding items tagged with a purple arrow to your cart lowers the price of other items already in your cart, and opting out of the free returns will also drop your total.
ShopRunner offers a subscription similar to Amazon that includes free two-day shipping and returns. However, if you have a PayPal or Yahoo account or a select American Express card, you qualify for complimentary membership. ShopRunner works with name brands like Neiman Marcus, Soma and Ann Taylor to make mall shopping accessible from your couch.
For computers and electronics, newegg is a top contender. But it has also expanded offerings to include apparel, luggage, jewelry and other inventory. The site recently launched a work-from-home portal where you can find everything you need to set up your quarantine-friendly office.
Target offers shopping and delivery online and some items qualify for same-day delivery. Then, of course, there’s still the classic bidding platform eBay, where you can buy brand-new items or peruse the selection for rare, vintage and one-of-a-kind finds.
Get your groceries without going out
We have posted this guide to safe grocery shopping. However, one of the safest options during the COVID-19 pandemic is not going out at all. Instead, you can have your groceries delivered right to your doorstep, often contactless and in a matter of hours.
Instacart is one of the major players in this arena and they let you shop at your local grocery store. A delivery fee of $3.99 will get everything to your door, sometimes in just an hour or two, where you can select “Leave at My Door Delivery” for a contactless handoff. The company announced an expansion to their alcohol delivery sales last year and are hoping to get this option available in more markets as the law allows.
Many big-chain grocery stores offer local delivery options as well, or you can opt for grocery delivery through Walmart Inc. or FreshDirect (if you live in one of the few states within their limited area of availability).
More than just groceries
For a curated option, there is an ever-expanding selection of delivery meal subscription services. These services let you plan your meals ahead of time and make sticking to a nutritional plan simple. They send the exact ingredients you need in the right proportions (less waste!) with instructions on how to prepare them.
Original options like Blue Apron or HelloFresh offer tried-and-true meal choices starting at $7.49 per serving. The subscriptions allow you to customize your deliveries to meet your needs and offer no-hassle cancellation policies. So, whether you need meal kits for two days per week or every day, there should be a plan that covers you.
The industry has since exploded, meaning there are more options for specific diets. For plant-based eaters, a subscription to Hungryroot or Purple Carrot will make healthy, veggie-based meals a no-brainer. On the low-budget end of the scale, Dinnerly offers meals starting at $4.49 per person. Gluten-free eaters or people with dietary restrictions may be best matched with Epicured, which offers meals designed to take the guesswork out of accommodating restrictions and food sensitivities. Martha Stewart has joined the game with Martha & Marley Spoon, a meal-kit delivery service that offers a great variety with 22 recipes every week.
There are plenty of options that we didn’t cover here and new services are sure to join the crowd. Now is the time to explore the possibilities and use this time of social distancing to work on your culinary skills.
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