Last Updated on 2024-02-14

Is Shipt Legit? Company Background, Testimonials, and More

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Catherine Meyers

5 years of experience working across Shipt and Instacart

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James Tuliano

4 years of experience working across Shipt and DoorDash

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Davis Porter

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

Shipt, a subsidiary of Target Corporation, is a reputable and well-regarded company offering flexible work opportunities in the delivery sector. Its subscription model allows members to pay an annual fee to have groceries and essentials delivered to their homes by Shipt Shoppers and Drivers. Over 300,000 Shoppers and Drivers currently work as independent contractors for Shipt.

Shipt’s corporate culture prioritizes positive relationships with customers and employees. It emphasizes a people-first approach that recognizes and fulfills the needs of its delivery personnel and other stakeholders. Shipt pays its Shoppers and Drivers quickly (you can choose between weekly direct deposit or daily instant pay), offers over a dozen perks and discounts to its contractors, and even has programs that help pay for gas

This culture extends to Shipt's social responsibility initiatives, which focus on community engagement, sustainable inclusivity, innovation, and employee well-being.

Shipt company history

Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Bill Smith, Shipt began as a grocery delivery service that targeted underserved areas. Its major breakthrough came in 2017 when it was acquired by Target Corporation for $550 million. This move expanded Shipt's reach, adding home products and select electronics to its delivery services.

James Tuliano, who has worked with the company for nearly four years now, says that Shipt was initially one of the only full-service grocery delivery services. In his words, “Shipt Shoppers used to actually put the groceries inside of the customer's kitchen and not just outside their door.”

“That is not a service advertised directly by Shipt anymore, but I do have one handicapped customer that I shop for whom I bring in her groceries and place them on her kitchen island.”

As of 2021, Shipt held about 6% of the market share in the same-day delivery segment. At $99 per year, customers can order from local retailers via a smartphone app. Fulfillment tasks are then assigned to Shipt Shoppers, who handle the shopping and delivery.  

The company is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Bill Smith served as the CEO until 2019, and the role is currently filled by Kamau Witherspoon, previously a senior vice president at Target. 

How Shipt works with Target

Target’s $550 million investment in Shipt was driven by the burgeoning demand for fast and convenient online shopping, a domain where Shipt had established expertise. Target hoped to strengthen its position in the competitive online retail market through Shipt's refined same-day delivery capabilities.

After the acquisition, Shipt underwent significant transformations but remained an independent subsidiary. The most notable change was the expansion of its service offerings. Leveraging Target's extensive network of stores and supply chain infrastructure, Shipt was able to diversify its product range and customer base. 

The association with Target, a well-established brand in the retail sector, also brought a new level of credibility. Shipt’s market perception improved, consequently boosting consumer and employee confidence.

For Target, the acquisition not only elevated its delivery capabilities but also brought in Shipt's innovative customer-focused systems. This has helped improve sales, customer satisfaction, and market position for both companies.

Moving forward, Shipt is expected to continue growing and innovating within Target's corporate framework. Future expansions might include entering new markets and product categories, integrating advanced technology for operational efficiency and customer personalization, and exploring other e-commerce segments. 

Shipt serves over two million households, but it’s more selective than its competitors

Shipt's service area covers most major urban and suburban centers in the US, but it's not as widespread compared to competitors like Instacart and DoorDash, so some people may not have heard of it. However, this could work to the advantage of Shoppers and Drivers as less competition may translate to higher earnings. 

In my experience, I’d definitely say this is true,” corroborates Catherine Meyers, a multi-platform gig worker who’s been doing Shipt for two years now. “Customers tend to select preferred shoppers pretty quickly, and my earnings with Shipt are always higher per hour than Instacart.”

Shipt collaborates with a variety of retailers across these areas, from grocery stores like Kroger and Publix to pharmacies like Walgreens. The partnerships are carefully chosen to fulfill customer needs and complement the company’s service portfolio. Recent expansions have seen Shipt adding over two million households and nearly 1,000 store locations to its marketplace. 

Shipt's areas of operation are organized into "metros" and "zones." Metros typically cover a city and its surrounding regions, which are subdivided into zones. Each zone is defined by factors like population density, store locations, and delivery demand. This system facilitates logistics management, allowing Shipt to efficiently allocate shoppers, balance supply and demand, and ensure prompt deliveries.

Shipt strives to be more of a “boutique” service

Shipt may not be as widespread as some of its competitors, but it's using its position to its advantage to cultivate a reputation as a bit more of a "boutique" and long-term gig. Case in point: its Preferred Shopper program. 

The Shipt Preferred Shopper program aims to offer an improved experience for both customers and Shoppers so they can build beneficial relationships. Satisfied customers can add Shoppers to their Preferred Shopper list to have their orders prioritized by those Shoppers in the future. Shoppers, in turn, can build their clientele as they fulfill orders. 

Shipt is the only app that is hyper-focused on you building your own ‘book of business’,” explains James. “You will only start making decent money from Shipt after spending a good amount of time building up your well-paying preferred customers. Many long-term Shipt Shoppers almost exclusively shop for their preferred customers, and don't take any orders from strangers anymore, or very few.”

In addition, Shipt tends to have higher base pay than similar delivery gigs and requires more of its applicants to ensure its workers are highly qualified. For example, Shipt conducts interviews with prospective Shoppers, in which applicants are tested on their knowledge of produce, time management skills, and more. 

According to James, “Shipt also requires Shoppers to meet very strict rating thresholds in order to keep working for them. I personally know multiple people who have had their accounts deactivated because they went below the rating threshold (which is 4.7 stars on the last 50 shops). Once your account is deactivated, it is gone forever and you can't appeal it. It is more strict than any other gig economy app, and customer service is a much larger focus.” 

But don’t let that scare you too much — usually, you’ll get a warning before being deactivated.

Highly rated shoppers, on the other hand, appreciate the company's supportive culture and the recognition they receive from both customers and the company. 

Catherine commends Shipt for providing better app updates than Instacart and Ubereats. She emphasizes, “Shipt seems to actually listen to Shopper complaints regarding functionality and wants to make things easier for us.”

Data from online review platforms offer a more quantified perspective of Shipt's reputation. The comments and ratings on Zippia, for example, point out a positive work culture but also highlight the inherent stress and uncertainties of gig work.

Shipt Drivers and Shoppers overwhelmingly commend the platform for its flexible scheduling system, straightforward sign-up process, and opportunities to earn bonuses. But, on the flip side, some reviews express concerns about fluctuating earnings, and the job's physical demands. 

Catherine says, “My complaint personally is a decline in quality with Shopper support. Recently, it seems like many of the support chat workers are not properly engaging with shoppers when we need help. They’re kind of scattered and it definitely seems like they’re engaging with multiple conversations at once, so it prolongs the wait time for us, prolonging delivery time for customers - it just seems worse as a whole lately. It definitely detracts from the experience for both shoppers and customers because they’re expecting a certain level of service, promptness, etc.”

James also mentions that “Shipt made a change last year so that all messages are done through the app (instead of texting the customer through a masked phone number) and it can make communication difficult.”

Most complaints about Shipt are from customers, not Shoppers and Drivers

Like any company, Shipt deals with complaints. However, it's owned by a highly-trusted brand, Target, and it maintains an A+ rating from the BBB, indicating that it's a legitimate and transparent company.

It's also important to note that many online complaints about Shipt are from customers who have had a less-than-ideal experience with a Shopper or have issues with app functionality, but these reviews don't reflect the Shopper or Driver experience or what it's like to work with Shipt.

The complaints that do come from Shoppers and Drivers are mainly related to:

  • Workload Management: Some workers have reported difficulties with handling large or complex orders. This is often due to the app not revealing the full order details in advance.
  • App Performance: Like any app, the Shipt app occasionally glitches, which can affect order allocation and delivery logistics. 
  • Communication and Support: Delivery personnel have suggested improvements in Shipt's communication and support, especially in resolving disputes or issues that arise during shopping and delivery.

Shipt has responded to these complaints by revamping its app for enhanced order management and delivery routing. The company has also improved support for Shoppers by offering better resources for dispute resolution, such as the Shipt rating forgiveness system, which allows Shoppers to get unjust customer ratings removed from their profiles. 

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