Dive Brief:

  • Shipt has launched a new tool that allows consumers to designate their favorite personal shoppers, who will then get prioritized to handle future orders, according to a press release on Tuesday.
  • The new tool, which at launch is only available to Shipt members, lets them designate any personal shopper they give a five-star rating to as a “preferred shopper.” If the shopper accepts, they are then added to that members’ preferred list and prioritized to handle future orders. 
  • Further personalizing the relationship between shoppers and members helps Shipt differentiate against online grocer competitors like Instacart, DoorDash and Uber.

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Dive Insight:

With its new Preferred Shopper tool, Shipt is once again leaning into customer service and its personal shoppers as distinguishing features in a rapidly evolving e-grocery landscape.

The company said customers had long expressed a desire to get paired up more often with their favorite shoppers. When it recently tested the Preferred Shopper tool, Shipt found that customers who used it ordered more often, had fewer issues with their orders and reported a better experience overall. Customers using the Preferred Shopper feature are also tipping more, which Shipt attributes to "a high level of individualized service."

Roughly 95% percent of people who have tried the service began using it immediately, Shipt said in its announcement.

Giving consumers more control over who handles their orders could help assuage longstanding concerns that have kept people from shopping for groceries online, like selecting perishable items and making substitutions. Letting members pick their most valuable shoppers could also incentivize Shipt workers to deliver a positive experience. Boutique personal shopping services like Dumpling have long emphasized the connection between members and individual shoppers.

“The more often a shopper shops for a customer, the more they learn about that customer’s wants and needs and are able to deliver a tailored shopping experience,” said Karl Varsanyi, chief experience and product officer at Shipt, in a statement.

The new tool continues a string of announcements from Shipt as it fights for relevance in an increasingly competitive online shopping landscape. Although the company has helped fuel parent company Target’s rapid e-commerce growth, its overall market penetration is much smaller than Instacart's and it is facing more competition from rapidly growing — and well-capitalized — players Uber and DoorDash.

Earlier this summer, Shipt launched a feature that lets customers set dietary filters under their online profiles. It’s also expanding its retailer partnerships beyond grocery, linking up with Rite Aid and healthcare service CaringBridge.