Four years into Shipt and Jennifer Hall was exhausted from plunging roller coaster drops in her paycheck from algorithm changes. “I applied because I could pretty much make my own schedule and see if I was gonna be able to handle going back to work after back surgery,” says Jennifer, “But Shipt kept changing stuff and they took Preferred customers away from us.”
It was through crossing paths with Chuck Elliott in the Shipt After Dark Facebook group and chatting about his change to Dumpling that made her and her husband, Chris Hall, seriously think about moving platforms. “And I already had so many customers asking me, ‘Could we drop Shipt as a middleman and you shop for me personally?’” explained Jennifer, and once she chatted with a few more top clients, “they were all onboard with it.”
“The key to switching is having those conversations with top trusted clients cause just leaving a flyer behind, a lot of times customers don’t put two and two together, and Chuck told us, ‘I don’t do as many orders as I ever did on Shipt and I make more,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Well, that’s cool; less work, more money,’ but we’re also providing a level of service customers want,” explains Chris.
“With Shipt, you’re paying for a premium service and you’re not getting premium service. With Dumpling, and as business owner, you have that opportunity to provide clients that white glove customer service experience they’ve been looking for on platforms where they’re not getting it,” he adds.
Although they still occasionally take a Shipt order for a little cash infusion, Jennifer and Chris are finalizing their switch to full-time Dumpling delivery with their business, CJ’s Pantry.
Small Business Straight Up Pricing Finally Removes Corporation Fees
Fulfilling mainly Dumpling deliveries, Jennifer and Chris are working to expand their 26 repeat clients who followed their incredible service off Shipt. They told them, “‘It’ll be our business. We pay them a subscription fee to provide us the app…You don’t pay anything. You pay in store pricing, shelf pricing, sale price, everything. There’s no markups on any products and you’re just paying us to shop and deliver plus tip, if you’d like,’” explains Chris.
And they mentioned that stepping away from Shipt to create their own business was “because these corporations don’t care about customers anymore and we want to provide a service to our good customers and help save them money over the corporations,” Chris says, “If I can save you a couple dollars per order, that’s better than you paying a major corporation those big bucks that aren’t going to the actual shoppers…and there’s no difference between Shipt and Instacart.”
Right now, Jennifer does most of the shopping from Thursday to Monday from about 7:00 AM to around 4:00 PM in Nashville, and they commute 200 miles round trip to the city from the mountains to shop Publix, Kroger, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and CVS. Getting this schedule and their pricing down were also a few experiments they had to test when upgrading to Dumpling.
“We went with the standard pricing and started with the platform fee, and we weren’t really getting many people to move over,” Chris explains, “So Jennifer and I talked about it and I was like let’s take that platform fee away so customers ain’t paying that, and cause that’s a tax write off for us, and see what happens…and it leveled out, then we actually dropped our pricing down to 12 percent…but it was eating into our bottom line.”
This trial and error pushed them to 15 percent of the order total or $15 minimum flat fee, with 10, 15, and 20 percent tip options that they operate with now. And they offer discounts for clients who haven’t ordered in a while and repeat clients to ratchet up additional value. Their freedom to dial in pricing is exactly why they wanted to drop Shipt even after four years of deliveries.
“Shipt or Instacart is where the algorithm is designed to pay you the least that’s possible so you can’t guarantee that 50 item order that comes in on Monday for a daycare is gonna pay what it would on Dumpling,” says Chris, “And we’ve noticed as far as pay goes, it’s more stable with Dumpling than Shipt, which constantly changes and they’re just driving that company into the ground.”
Dumpling “absolutely” helps them track income and sales better, as they review monthly revenue, orders completed, and growth over the last four weeks. It’s the ability to tap into business insights and rearrange orders within the Dumpling app, and see consistent income that’s not dependent on an ever-altering algorithm that makes them excited about growing their Dumpling business away from Shipt.
Guaranteed Pay, No Blackbox Algorithms, and Actual Premium Service
“Really it’s the guaranteed pay with Dumpling because I’ve been through four different pay scales with Shipt and it keeps getting lower and lower and lower,” Jennifer says, “And I’m not joking, you can do 50 or 60 item orders now and they wanna pay you $6 to $8 bucks.”
Although she previously made between $800 and $1,500 per week on Shipt, the continuous pay scale drops were the last straw. Now that she’s working on her Dumpling business, she has more stability and opportunities for income increases by offering a truly premium service.
“By us starting our own business with Dumpling, we can provide that one-on-one experience that these customers wanted from Shipt that they no longer get because Shipt changes rules and policies, and does not even care what their customers want or need,” says Chris, “[As a Shipt client I’m thinking], ‘I’m paying a premium price for a premium service and not getting premium anything.’”
That “premium” also includes memberships and “free” delivery where hidden markups and fees are passed back to the customer. “That’s what really made us go with Dumpling and offer our own service to these customers is they don’t pay a premium service fee to have groceries delivered, they’re paying a specific person who scheduled and getting that person every single time who knows how they shop,” Chris explains.
And instead of making it difficult for clients to see the truth in their receipts, Dumpling’s transparency was a breath of fresh air, and Jennifer and Chris like that they go out of their way to offer promotions like piggybacks and Welcome 15 discounts for new clients.
“Paying that on behalf of their clients when they don’t have to and they’re already providing our subscription, the app, and all the behind-the-scenes stuff to make it work, it’s great that Dumpling takes that chance on businesses and clients coming over to them,” Chris says, “Cause I can tell you right now, Shipt and Instacart, they give you discounts, but they just jack up the price of their stuff to get their discount back.”
White Glove Service While Saving Clients Up to $1,300 Per Year
Setting themselves distinctly apart from corporate fees and backhanded discounts also meant leveraging one of Jennifer’s skills: extreme couponing. “While I was out for back surgery, I started extreme couponing and I loved being in the stores looking for deals and now I’m like, ‘Oh, my customer would love that,’ so I clip coupons for them on Dumpling now,” she says.
Clipping digital coupons “every single morning” is one slice of the white glove customer service they strive for, and since switching to Dumpling, their customers save even beyond coupons. “I have one guy I’ve been delivering to for almost four years, he said he’s calculated that he’ll be saving at least $1,300 a year using me versus Shipt,” says Jennifer, “So where his orders went from like $200 to $250 bucks, lately on Dumpling, they’re like $400 and $500 bucks.”
If you’re not treating your customers as fantastically as possible, not going above-and-beyond, or wowing them, you’re not going to grow, Chris says, “You can hand out 1,000 flyers and get 10 people, or you could treat one customer so good they tell everybody they know, and you get 20 customers from their friends.”
Create that white glove experience by shifting from platforms that constantly plummet your paychecks. Take a chance with Dumpling because, “What do you have to lose?” says Chris, “And with Dumpling, you get to be that shareholder who owns your company, that makes all the changes and decisions, gives premium service, and your clients deal strictly with you, that’s a win.”
“As a small business owner, you don’t have to have all that capital upfront, you don’t have to buy or build an app, with Dumpling, all that’s already been done for you,” he adds, “You plug in your information and go out there and get your customers.”