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Grocery Shopper vs Food Delivery Driver: Which job is better?

We compare these two popular gig jobs so you can choose the right one for you.
By: Aaron Moriarty
Updated: September 26, 2021
Make money delivering food for DoorDash

Grocery shopper vs food delivery driver

Gig workers have lots of options these days. Apps like DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, Uber, and Lyft have given people the ability to work and earn money on their own schedule. Today, we’re going to look at two types of popular gig economy jobs; grocery shopper and food delivery driver so you can see which one might be the best for you.

Basic job requirements

Both jobs will require you to be 18-19 years or older and have a valid driver's license. While in some cities and dense urban areas you can get by on a bicycle or scooter for completing restaurant food deliveries, having a car is a must in suburban areas where restaurants and neighborhoods are further apart. As a grocery shopper though, you will definitely need a vehicle since groceries can be heavier and there’s just more of it than a takeout from a restaurant.

Apps and services available

While most grocery stores have shoppers, they are typically employees of the store and not gig workers. Instacart and Shipt are two apps that employ gig workers and will have you shop at stores like Costco, Sprouts, Krogers, Target, and CVS. As a food delivery driver, you’ll have more options with DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates, and Grubhub that all employ gig workers to pick up and deliver meals from local restaurants.

Instacart shopper in the grocery store
Instacart shopper in the grocery store.

Application process

Applying for both a grocery shopper and food delivery driver are essentially identical. You sign up on the app’s website and answer some basic questions like how old you are, your local zip code of where you plan on working, what kind of vehicle or means of transportation you plan on using, and what your driver’s license number is. After that, you’ll agree to a background check and wait 1-5 days for the results. The background check is conducted by a third party and typically looks at your criminal and driving record. The good news is that most apps use the same third party background check service so if you’ve been approved recently by one app, you’ll be approved almost instantly by another. Once the check clears, just download the app and you’re ready to start accepting jobs.

What to expect on the job

While both these jobs are essentially delivery jobs where you will need to bring groceries or meals to a customer’s doorstep, what differs most is what happens before that. As a food delivery driver, you will go to a restaurant, tell them the service you’re delivering with, give them your order number, take the food and you’re on your way.

As a grocery shopper though, you not only have to pick up, but you have to shop for the grocery items themselves. After you arrive at the market, it’s your responsibility to find the items on the list and scan them on your phone. Once done, you pay with the app issued credit card and then you follow the GPS directions to the drop off destination.

As you can see, the big difference between these two jobs is having to shop for groceries inside the store versus just picking up the food order.

How much you will make

While it might seem you’re doing more work as a grocery shopper because you have to actually time shopping for the items, you on average do earn more per order than food delivery. If you’re shopping and delivering $100 worth of groceries vs picking up and delivering a $100 restaurant meal to the same destination, you will make substantially more with the grocery order because it will take a longer time to complete.

However, on average you will make about the same amount per hour for both jobs, in the $15-$30 range depending on tips. In food delivery, you’ll do more deliveries, so more time spent driving in the car, while in grocery shopping, you’ll do less deliveries but spend more time shopping.

Times of day most in demand

Demand for grocery shoppers is greatest during 4pm-8pm on weekdays when people come home from work and are ready to make dinner. Anytime during the weekends is also popular as people are home and available to receive the groceries. Food delivery drivers, as you would guess, are most in demand during lunch (11am-2pm) and dinner hours (4:30pm-8pm) any day of the week. Expect to earn more money during these high demand hours.

DoorDash "Dasher" delivering on his scooter in the city
DoorDash "Dasher" delivering on his scooter in the city.

Safety and Covid

What’s good about grocery shopper and food delivery jobs is that unlike rideshare jobs, you never have passengers in your car with you. It is recommended you follow all local safety ordinances with regards to wearing masks when inside restaurants and grocery stores.

Job popularity

The demand for restaurant delivery is much higher than groceries as evident by the number of food delivery apps compared to grocery delivery. While grocery delivery has increased in popularity in recent years, it’s still not as common then getting food delivered to your door.

Future job outlook

Demand for grocery delivery and food delivery is strong, especially in light of Covid with restrictions placed on indoor grocery stores and restaurants. Both stand to continue to grow in popularity as more people value the conveniences of ordering from an app and having it delivered straight to your door.

Which job is right for me?

This will ultimately come down to your preference. If you love grocery shopping, getting paid to shop for groceries is probably your best bet. You’ll spend more time in the grocery store looking for items and less time driving. If you don’t want to step foot inside a grocery store and just prefer to pick up orders at restaurants and drop them off, food delivery would be ideal for you. The great thing about gig jobs is flexibility, so we recommend you try both out and see for yourself which you prefer.

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