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Instacart Shopper: Hand picking out bell pepper from a pile

The Difference Between In-Store and Full-Service Instacart Shoppers

Last updated: February 12, 2020
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There was a time when driving for a rideshare service like Uber and Lyft was one of the only options gig workers had to choose from.

Nowadays, side hustlers like yourself have the pick of the litter when it comes to which gig service you want to work for. The variety of opportunities you can choose from seem to increase every day.

There are rideshare companies, restaurant delivery services, petsitting opportunities, and nearly everything in between. You can even shop for groceries from your favorite local stores and deliver them to customers if you’d like.

In this article, we’re going to talk about becoming an Instacart shopper, the difference between a full-service and in-store shopper, and how you can sign up to start working.

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service that brings groceries directly to a customer’s door. Through the Instacart app, customers will choose their grocery items that Instacart shoppers will pick up and deliver to their home.

Instacart alleviates the weekly hassle of having to drive to the grocery store and spend time shopping for all of your items. Instead, customers can do all of their shopping from home and then pay a small fee for someone else to shop for them.

As an Instacart shopper, you’ll be required to fulfill orders by shopping for and delivering the items that the customer orders. This includes paying close attention to customer requests, like finding the ripest fruit or substituting products if their initial choice is out of stock.

The best Instacart shoppers are quick on their feet and always keep the customer in mind. By paying close attention to order details and delivering groceries in a speedy manner, you have a better shot at keeping customers happy and potentially receiving a few more hard-earned tips.

Benefits of Working for Instacart

From a shopper’s standpoint, Instacart provides you with a flexible employment option that allows you to choose your own hours, be your own boss, and make money on the side whenever you please.

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The nice part about being an Instacart worker is that you’re able to set your own work hours that fit into your schedule. If you’re busy during the week and want to pick up a few extra hours on the weekend, you can do so. Likewise, if you’d rather work all week long and have your weekends off, you can also take that route. It’s all up to you.

You also have the option of picking which type of job you’d like to have — a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper.

Full-Service Shopper

The first employment option of Instacart is a full-service shopper. A full-service shopper will shop for items in the grocery store and deliver them to Instacart customers. In some cases, you’ll only be required to deliver orders.

As a full-service shopper, you’ll be considered an independent contractor rather than a part-time employee. You’ll be able to set your own schedule, work whenever is convenient for you, and work as many hours as you’d like. If you have access to a vehicle, this is a great option to make some extra cash on the side.

Full-Service Shopper Requirements

In order to become an Instacart shopper, you must pass a few basic requirements and have access to a vehicle to deliver orders.

Here are the requirements to become a full-service shopper:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Consistent access to a vehicle with insurance
  • Own an iPhone 5 or Android 5.0 or newer
  • Able to lift 30–40 pounds with or without accommodation

In-Store Shopper

If you don’t have access to a vehicle or would rather not drive around town delivering orders, being an in-store shopper is a great option. In-store shoppers fill customer orders in the store and prepare them for pick-up.

As an in-store shopper, you’re considered a part-time employee and can only work 29 hours per week. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be guaranteed 29 hours every week. The number of hours you’ll work will depend on the demand of shoppers throughout the week.

In-store shoppers will be assigned a grocery store for each shift they work. During their shift, they’ll fill customer orders that they receive through the app and prepare them to be picked up by a full-service shopper.

In-Store Shopper Requirements

There are fewer requirements to become an in-store shopper than a full-service shopper. The major difference is that in-store shoppers aren’t required to have access to a vehicle. Beyond that, the requirements are nearly the same and are as follows:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Own an iPhone 5 or Android 5.0 or newer
  • Able to lift 30–40 pounds with or without accommodation

For a more detailed breakdown of the requirements of becoming an Instacart employee, you can check out our article regarding worker requirements.

Instacart Pay Calculation

Instacart’s payment structure seems to change quite a bit and the company is careful to not provide any concrete payment figures to potential employees. Instacart’s latest payment iteration rewards shoppers for the miles they drive and the number of items in the order, and they give bonuses for working during peak hours.

Instacart’s payment structure varies depending on which city you’re working in across the United States. Each city and region has its own payment details that are outlined when you initially sign up to become a shopper.

To give you an idea, each of the following details are considered when you deliver an order:

  • Number of items: The more items there are in an order, the more you’ll be paid. This rate varies from city to city.
    • Example: Shoppers receive $0.40 per unique item
  • Per mile rate: For each mile you drive from the store to the customer, you’re awarded a distance multiplier that varies from city to city.
    • Example: $0.60 per mile driven x 10 miles = $6.00
  • Peak boosts: These are bonuses shoppers receive for working during peak hours that will vary depending on how busy it is.
    • Example: $3 for each batch delivered during a period of high demand
  • Customer tips: Shoppers get to keep 100 percent of the tips they receive.

Instacart now allows shoppers to preview the order before accepting. You’re able to see the earnings estimate before you take an order to determine if it’s worth your time.

Sign Up for Instacart

If you think you’d like to give Instacart a shot, you can take the first steps toward signing up today. Signing up requires filling out an online form and completing an onboarding process that is either online or in person.

Screen Shot 2019 03 01 at 5.25.12 PM

To start, you can head to the application page and fill out your personal information. You’ll then need to fill out a questionnaire confirming that you meet all of the requirements for becoming an Instacart employee. This includes confirming whether or not you have access to a vehicle.

After that, you’ll be directed to download the Instacart shopper app and complete the application process. Once the application is complete you’ll need to pass a background check and then wait to be approved as an employee before completing the onboarding process.

If you decide that you want to be a full-service shopper, the onboarding process can be done online. If you want to be an in-store shopper, you’ll be required to complete an in-person onboarding session.

After that, you’re all set. You can log on, start scheduling your shifts, and begin making some extra cash on the side.

Give It a Shot

Working for Instacart is an excellent way to make some extra cash in your free time. Many employees treat Instacart as a full-time job. Others consider Instacart their part-time job and just pick up extra hours on the side.

Whatever you decide, it wouldn’t hurt to give Instacart a shot. If you’ve been driving for rideshare companies or other gig services, Instacart may be a great addition to your side hustle game.

Best of luck and maybe we’ll see you in the grocery aisles next time we’re out shopping!

View All Comments (9) Add A Comment

  1. Fabian Badrock Says:

    This was very helpful!

  2. Schana M Cummings Says:

    If I’m a full service shopper can I become an in store shopper?

    1. Ted Rosner Says:

      You need to contact support to change your role.

    2. Jocelyn Alvarez-Recio Says:

      You may only work one position at a time. So you would either be an instore shopper, or a full service independent contractor. You are allowed 1 transfer every 6months if you are in good standing. You would need to contact customer support, or speak to your shift lead/pod lead for more information.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    How long is the waiting list please?

    1. Laura Says:

      Depends in which city you are I guess. I have applied to become a full service shopper a year ago and I am still on the waiting list. I live in Miami.

  4. jenny Says:

    whats the pay structure for the in store shoppers?

    1. Jocelyn Alvarez-Recio Says:

      Instore shoppers are going through a new pay model. Starting January 27th 2020, Instacart will no longer pay service bonuses (aka tips) to instore shoppers. The base hourly pay will be raised from $9 per hour to $11.25 starting. For every additional 500 hours worked with the company, the base pay will be raised by 25 cents. The maximum hourly rate earned will be $13.25 regardless of time accrued with the company. No bonuses, benefits or tips will be earned. This may or may not apply to the $2 pick up bump for curbside orders, as the company has not clarified its pay model for orders only shopped by instore workers (meaning customer curbside pickup, not delivered by a full service driver) .

      I hope this was informative. To give you an understanding of what this new pay model means, Instacart used to pay its instore shoppers an hourly wage of $9 with a 30% service bonus for every batch completed. This bonus was based on the service fee (10% of the order total) charged to the customer. Instore shoppers would recieve 30% of that 10% fee.

      So if the order was $100 and the fee for that was $10, a shopper would recieve a $3 service bonus as “tip” ontop of the hourly rate. If the store you worked at was busy, and you were fast, an instore shopper could reasonably make anywhere from $14 -$18 per hour.

      1. Morgan Says:

        Do you know if the full service shopper pay scale changed in January as well? I am trying to figure out what full service shoppers are making now.

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