As New York becomes an epicenter of technology companies and great new startups, it is gaining a reputation as one of the most digitally connected hubs in the country. Whenever I tell people back in the Midwest that I order my groceries online, they tend to give me funny looks- but as I’ve written before, grocery stores here are crazy crazy places. And it is not just groceries, there are a number of services and tools that will help make your life a bit easier by digitally connecting you to essential services all over town. With new things popping up all the time, this is just a small glimpse at what it is out there- a list of the services I use on a regular basis and can wholeheartedly recommend. (And for each one, we have discounts or promotions you can use!)
I’ve gushed about the benefits of FreshDirect before so I’ll try not to be too repetitive. Basically, ordering groceries online has made my life so much easier- I eat more healthily because I now order less take-out, I save money (on most things) because I can browse the weekly specials, I save my sanity because I avoid going to 5 tightly packed stores to get everything I need and I save energy by not having to go to the store every few days and lug home overflowing bags of food.
If you haven’t ordered from FreshDirect yet, give it a try and see what you think. Click this link to sign up for FreshDirect and get $25 off your first order!
Seamless is an awesome site that shows you restaurants that are delivering to your address right now. It is incredibly handy because you don’t need to worry about what hours they are open, finding a menu or if they take credit cards- they have it all online. Browse the menu, select what you want, add it to your “Bag” and checkout (cash or card, al the time!)- it is that simple. A few minutes later you will get an email confirming your order and giving you a time estimate for when to expect your delivery to arrive. For times when you have run out of your FreshDirect order (or are just too lazy to cook), this is an awesome way to get food straight to your apartment.
I am always surprised at the number of places that deliver near me- restaurants I never would have expected are available all day. And if you haven’t tried it yet, use this link to sign up for Seamless and get $5 off your first order!
Dry Cleaning: Spotless City
Spotless City is a new service that brings browsing, ordering and delivery to dry cleaning and laundry. Browse the cleaners that serve your area, schedule a pickup/drop off time and pay online- quick and easy. I have used it a few times and love it- the best part is that you can see price lists. It is easy to use Google to find cleaners in your area and call them, but most do not have websites (if they do, they are rarely very helpful). Spotless City gives you a great tool to do your research ahead of time and then take care of everything online. (And they just had a great showing at the Disrupt NY conference)
Give Spotless City a try for your dry cleaning- use the promocode OurFriends and get 15% off your first dry cleaning & laundry order through the end of June 2012.
Home and Personal Products: Soap
Yes, I even buy toilet paper online. Soap.com has a huge selection of the things most New Yorkers buy at Duane Reade- trash bags, deodorant, paper towels, cleaning products and even ‘personal bedroom items’. One of the great features is coupon integration- if there is a coupon for a particular product, it will tell you as you add it to your cart- it may only be $.25 here and there, but hey, it’s New York and we’re all broke, so I’ll take it.
The best part about Soap is that if you buy more than $25, 2 Day shipping is free. Items tend to be close to the same price you would pay in the store, though some things like toilet paper are actually considerably cheaper; I like to order from Soap because even at the same price, it’s more convenient for me.
Soap has 4 companion sites that cover other types of products: Diapers.com for your baby stuff, Wag.com for pet supplies, YoYo.com for toys/games and Casa.com for home decor. I have only used Soap so I can’t attest to the selection or prices on the other sites, but conveniently, you can shop across all 5 sites and checkout in a single shopping cart.
Use the promocode BANY to get 20% off your first order on any of the Soap.com family of sites and they will also donate $30 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
While not a delivery service, Uber is an app that can make life quite a bit easier from time to time. I live in a neighborhood that doesn’t get a lot of cab traffic, meaning I either need to call a car service or walk aways before finding one. Recently, Uber launched here in NYC and it has made finding a car anywhere in town a breeze. Download the iPhone app, enter your name, email and password then take a photo of your credit card (yes, just a photo- no forms at all). You see a map of cars near you; just hit “Request pickup” and within a few seconds, you have a driver en route. It is great- the driver’s name, photo and can real time location are al shown within the app. Even better, you just hop in when they arrive and go- Uber charges your card automatically at the end of the ride, adds a 20% gratuity and emails you a receipt- so no cash, no paper. Just like they advertise, it really is just like having your own car service.
It is a bit more expensive than taking a regular yellow cab, but it can be really handy in the outer boroughs, late night or when you just need a black car. The only downsides are that you don’t see rates ahead of time (unless you look online) and you cannot specify the number of passengers which makes a group of 5 a crap shoot (though I did get an Escalade once).
Try it out and let us now what you think. The in-app signup is super fast but if you register for Uber online with this link, get $10 off your first ride.
Everything Else: Amazon (Prime)
For everything else you could ever need, I recommend Amazon. Last year I paid the $79 for an Amazon Prime membership which gets me free 2 Day shipping (and since they have a warehouse in Queens, it isn’t uncommon for things to show up next day), access to their library of Online videos (similar to Netflix) and a whole host of other perks I’m sure I’m not using to the best of my ability. Not having to worry about shipping makes life a lot easier and it has paid for itself many times over – and not just for books. I’ve ordered kitchen utensils, shower curtains, a beard trimmer, bookshelves, ice cube trays and rugs just to name a few.
I use Amazon to order most everything around the house that doesn’t fall into categories covered by the other sites I’ve mentioned. Go sign up for a Prime membership if you don’t have one already and welcome to the land of everything you’ve ever wanted… delivered.
Of course the convenience of having all of these things delivered depends a lot on your circumstances- with FreshDirect and Seamless, you can specify delivery windows to make sure you are home but for others, you are at the mercy of UPS/USPS. If you have a doorman, this isn’t much of a problem, but for the rest of us, you might end up having to go to the post office to pick up your package. I have a couple of families in my building, so usually UPS can find someone to buzz them into the lobby to leave packages by the stairs but no guarantees. If you do have a reliable way of getting deliveries, these services will make living in New York a bit easier- giving you digital access to things you used to have to go get yourself. Let us know in the comments of any other awesome services out there that I’ve missed)
(apologies to anyone who read the title of this article and though it was going to include a weed delivery service)