The Definitive Guide to Instacart: Everything You Need to Know

Curious about getting your groceries delivered with Instacart, or signing up to be a shopper? Here's everything you need to know about this exciting service!

The world today is so much more convenient than it once was.

Instead of spending all your free time running errands on the subway, you can use gig economy apps to make your errands effortless. If you’d like to do them yourself, you can summon a car to your door with a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft. You can have dinner delivered from your favorite restaurant by using Grubhub or Seamless. You can shop for books or even household supplies on Amazon and in some cities, have them show up at your door the very same day.

And now even your grocery shopping can be delivered to your door using an on-demand grocery delivery service app like Instacart.

Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery apps. If you’re wondering how to get your groceries delivered with Instacart, keep reading. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about Instacart including how it works, where Instacart is available, the stores Instacart shops from, and how you can become an Instacart shopper.

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is a popular grocery delivery app available to use through Instacart.com, the Instacart Apple app, and the Instacart Android app. You can order your groceries online from your sofa using your laptop or on your commute home on your tablet or phone.

How Instacart Works

To use the Instacart app, you simply sign in, select the grocery items from your shopping list, and schedule your delivery. Your fresh groceries can show up in as little as an hour or you can schedule a delivery time later the same day or even in a few days. It’s possible to schedule an Instacart grocery delivery up to six days in advance.

You can also choose to pick up the groceries yourself at the store. This can be handy if you need to grab a few things on your way home or to a dinner or picnic and want to save yourself the time of walking the aisles to gather up the necessary items. You’ll shop on Instacart for what you want, choose your pickup time, and show up at the grocery store at or after your pickup time to get your grocery items.

Note that only certain grocery store locations offer pick-up as an option.

Who Is Shopping for You?

An Instacart personal shopper will hand-select all your produce for you, ensuring you have the freshest produce available. You have the option of leaving a note for your Instacart shopper, specifying the level of ripeness you’d like for your fruits and vegetables. For example, if you’re making avocado toast tomorrow, you’ll want very ripe avocados. And if you’re not serving the watermelon until later this week, you don’t want one that is ripe now.

Instacart shoppers are noted for their attentiveness to expiration dates, so you don’t need to worry about your items expiring tomorrow. Your shopper will also handle fragile items like glass jars and eggs with the same (or more) care than you would. If an item you ordered is out of stock, your Instacart shopper will determine a close replacement and verify that it’s an acceptable substitute with you prior to purchasing the replacement item.

Where Is Instacart Available?

Instacart is available all over the United States and in parts of Canada. Some of the most popular cities for Instacart usage are:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

If you’d like to know if Instacart delivers to you, you can enter your zip code here. If Instacart is not yet available in your area, don’t worry. They are expanding rapidly and may be available soon. In order to be notified when they become available in your city, click “Get notified when we expand to your area.”

The Definitive Guide to Instacart: Everything You Need to Know

Where Does Instacart Shop?

Instacart shops at a variety of different grocery stores. The exact stores are determined by region. Popular stores for Instacart delivery include Whole Foods, Wegmans, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, and Petco. You can check which local stores Instacart shops at in your area by clicking here.

If Instacart is available in your area, you’ll be shown a list of grocery stores at which your Instacart shopper can shop on your behalf. New stores are added to Instacart on a regular basis so you will want to check back frequently to see if your favorite local stores are now available.

You can suggest your favorite stores to Instacart by contacting support@instacart.com.

Instacart Coupon Codes and Promo Codes

Instacart.com promo codes and coupons can be used for everything from free delivery to a percentage off your first order or even free groceries. There are often limited time special deals or free trials on express memberships being offered. You can find some of the most popular Instacart promo codes by clicking here.

Instacart also occasionally accepts manufacturer or store coupon codes on personal care items or household items, but this is at Instacart’s discretion.

The Definitive Guide to Instacart: Everything You Need to Know

Instacart Express Membership

Instacart charges a delivery fee but you can avoid it on every order over $35 (not just your first delivery) by purchasing an Express membership.

An Instacart Express membership costs $149 per year and also allows you to order from multiple stores without additional fees. If you’re a regular Instacart user, the savings from an Express membership can add up quickly. To sign up on the Instacart website click “Account” in the drop down menu, click “Your Account,” and then in the left-hand menu, click “Account.” From there you’ll be able to update your payment methods and membership.

Being an Instacart Shopper

If you’re looking to earn some extra cash with a part-time job that offers a flexible schedule and you enjoy grocery shopping, Instacart may be a good fit for you. With Instacart, you have the ability to be either a Full-Service Shopper or an In-Store Shopper.

Full-Service Shoppers are independent contractors who both shop for and deliver grocery orders. Full-Service Shoppers can work an unlimited number of hours, but they are required to have a vehicle with the appropriate insurance coverage.

Being an In-Store Shopper is not a full-time job. In-Store Shoppers are part-time employees who are limited to a maximum of 29 hours per week. These hours will fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on customer demand. In-Store Shoppers stay at a single store location for the entirety of their shift and are responsible for helping customers shop for their Instacart orders. In-Store Shoppers are not required to have their own car or insurance.The Definitive Guide to Instacart: Everything You Need to Know

Instacart Shopper Requirements

The requirements to be an Instacart Shopper are much less strict than the requirements to work for most gig economy companies. If you’d like to become an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Legally allowed to work in the United States
  • Have access to a vehicle at all times
  • Have a personal smartphone (iPhone 5 or newer or Android 4.4 or newer) with a data plan and phone number
  • Be able to lift 30–40 lbs.

If you don’t meet the above delivery driver requirements but would like to work for Instacart, consider becoming an In-Store Shopper. The requirements to be an In-Store Shopper are:

  • 17 years of age or older
  • Legally allowed to work in the United States
  • Have a personal smartphone (iPhone 5 or newer or Android 5.0 or newer) with a data plan and phone number
  • Comfortably lift 30–40 lbs.

How to Become an Instacart Shopper

If you meet the requirements to be an Instacart Full-Service Shopper or an Instacart In-Store Shopper, you’ll find applying to be a fairly straightforward process. Start by clicking this link.

You’ll see the following online form:

The Definitive Guide to Instacart: Everything You Need to Know

Once you submit the initial online form, you’ll be guided through the rest of the application process which will ask for the following additional information:

  • Enter your personal information (name, address, etc.)
  • Choose Full-Service or In-Store Shopper
  • Complete a brief questionnaire (to ensure you meet the requirements for the role you selected)
  • Complete the application they will email you
    • The application will come as a download link. You will need to download the document to complete it.
  • State your work preferences (the hours you would like to work)

Instacart will then inform you whether your application has been accepted or not. If it’s accepted, you’ll need to schedule a one-on-one orientation. This onboarding process will take about two hours and will include setting you up on the Instacart shopper app and signing an independent contractor agreement, if you’re an Instacart Full-Service Shopper.

Is Instacart Worth It?

Instacart is popular for the same reasons all other gig economy companies are – convenience for the user and a flexible income for the workers. If you hate grocery shopping or simply don’t have time, Instacart could be worth every penny. Similarly, if you’re looking for a flexible part-time job and don’t have a car to drive for Uber or Lyft, Instacart may be a great fit for you. Regardless of whether you’re looking for convenience or cash, Instacart is worth your consideration.

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Owner of Gigworker.com 

Brett Helling is the owner of Gigworker.com. Since an early age, he has started business ventures and worked various side hustles in many different niches. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber and Lyft. In 2014 he started a website to share his experiences with other drivers, which has now become Ridester.com. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche by building and growing Gigworker.com. As the site grows, his insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more.

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