Products and services that one seemed superfluous are now becoming vitally important in this age of the Covid-19. As a tech reviewer and prognosticator I had been totally dismissive of many until this age of Covid-19.
I trivialized the value of grocery-shopping services for the masses. Sure, they were helpful for those confined to home by illness or lack of mobility, but don’t most prefer to pick out their own fruit and vegetables?
Early attempts at shopping services went bankrupt. Yet the services are now vital if you want to avoid strangers in super markets. I now use Instacart once or twice a week to shop Costco and several grocery stores in our area. It’s a well-designed app and service that allows you to create a shopping list and communicate with the shopper working on your behalf. The biggest issue had been scheduling a time for delivery after completing a list, often facing no appointments or week-long delays.But that’s been fixed and deliveries are usually available within a day or two.
There still are issues with some markets showing items available that are not. One hint is to communicate with the shopper while they are shopping and ask that they look for an item that shows out of stock. Whole Foods has their own delivery service, but in my experience they’ve been less reliable than Instacart with more items out of stock and fewer delivery slots. In fact, it’s been one of the big fails of Amazon.
We used restaurant delivery services in the past, perhaps once a month, and now that’s become a regular occurrence for many and has allowed restaurants to survive. There still are issues with these services, such as a 3rd party handling your food, huge costs some of the services are charging, and companies such as GrubHub (which I avoid) charging restaurants exorbitant fees and other deceitful practices. I now try to arrange a restaurant pickup where the food is placed in your trunk when you arrive. It helps your local restaurant and is nearly as convenient.
Another service that popped up has been curbside delivery from retailers. While rarely heard of before, it has become a great solution and is something that I hope remains in place after the isolation. It’s a way that retailers can better compete with Amazon and a reversal of what once was: shopping the physical stores and ordering on Amazon. Now we can shop on Amazon and order from the stores and have the product the same day.
I tried that with my local Target and Best Buy. Both worked similarly. Order on line and specify your local store for pickup. You get a text notification a few minutes after ordering and paying online. Drive to the designated area near the store and push a button on your email to let them know you’ve arrived. A few minutes later the item is put into your trunk. All done seamlessly and touchfree.
I’m also subscribing to many new services I used to get for free because of how much I use them. Now that we zoom a lot I’m paying $15/mo to extend my calls beyond the 40 minute limit. And we subscribed to Uberconference for a similar reason. One of the benefits of UberConference’s subscription is everyone can call in using a single phone number with no code to enter. That’s particularly useful for the technically challenged relatives!
I also began using Stamps.com to create paid shipping labels for packages I need to send out. I use USPS most of the time, and with a prepaid label I don’t need to wait in line at the Post Office.
While I try to shop locally for big items – it’s easier to return them – Amazon has become even more vital with their delivery of most anything. When our Microwave failed I needed a specific fuse that was at my doorstep 15 hours later.
And of course, we need to be thankful for all fo the streaming video services. The challenge isn’t finding something to entertain us, it’s figuring out what’s worthwhile and on which service it can be found.
Technology is serving us well during these difficult times and is allowing us to cope with the challenges of self-isolation.