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Shipt vs Instacart: Wire basket of vegetables

Shipt vs Instacart: Grocery Delivery Showdown 2020

Last updated: March 30, 2020
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If you want your groceries delivered, there are dozens of options. Peapod, Amazon Fresh, Clicklist (just for Kroger), Instacart, and Shipt will all do your grocery shopping for you. In many cities, you’ll have to order from the company that serves your market, but in big markets like San Francisco and New York City, you’ll have your pick of several of the grocery delivery service options. So how do you choose?

Shipt and Instacart are two of the biggest and most popular grocery delivery services in the United States, with a good selection of grocery store partners and deals, so this article will compare Shipt and Instacart in depth.

We’ll cover what Shipt and Instacart are, who has better availability and grocery store partners, who has better deals and coupons, and who has better customer service for when something goes wrong and you need the company to help.

In the end, we’ll declare a winner in this grocery delivery service showdown, so let’s get started.


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What Is Shipt?

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Shipt was founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 2014 as a grocery delivery service. As of 2019, Shipt is delivering home products, groceries, and certain electronics. Shipt does not offer delivery from restaurants or retailers, which means no alcohol delivery in most places. This article will focus on Shipt as a grocery delivery service.

You can place an order on Shipt using the Shipt app for iOS or Android or on your desktop.  To use the Shipt app to order groceries, you’ll need to sign into your account, select the items for your grocery list, pick a delivery window, and place your order. You can choose same-day delivery to be as soon as one hour, even from grocery stores that are open 24/7.

Shipt offers its members in certain areas the ability to pick up their orders from the grocery store. In this instance, a user will select their grocery items in the Shipt app, choose the local grocery store and pick up time, and check out. Their grocery items will be bagged and waiting for them by the time they scheduled their pick up.

What Is Instacart?

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

To order groceries on Instacart, you’ll need to sign in, choose the grocery items from your shopping list, and schedule your delivery time. Your fresh groceries will show up in as little as an hour or you can choose a delivery window later that day or even a few days in the future. You can schedule an Instacart grocery delivery as much as six days in advance.

With Instacart, you can also opt to pick up the groceries yourself at the grocery store. This is a handy option if you just need to grab a few things on your way home and want to be as efficient with your time as possible. You simply shop on Instacart for the items you need and select your pickup time, and your bagged items will be waiting for you when you show up at or after your pickup time.

Who Has Better Availability?

Shipt operates in over 250 cities in North America and is rapidly expanding. You can check if Shipt is currently operating in your city by clicking here and entering your zip code.

Instacart is in over 210 markets in North America and is also expanding to additional markets every year. You can check the complete list of Instacart markets by clicking here and entering your zip code or scrolling down.

Winner for Availability: Shipt

Who Has Better Grocery Store Partners?

Shipt works with retailers like Costco, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Kroger, Meijer, Whole Foods, H-E-B, Safeway, and Target.

Instacart works with more than 190 retail partners, including national chains such as Costco, Kroger, CVS, and certain Target locations, as well as local supermarkets like Publix and Wegmans. Some grocery store items such as custom cake orders, gift cards, and tobacco are restricted from delivery by Instacart, but certain stores can deliver alcohol.

Winner for Grocery Store Partners: Instacart

Who Has Better Deals?

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While Shipt and Instacart operate in lots of markets and have lots of great delivery partners, which one offers better deals?

New User and Existing User Coupon Codes

While promo codes are not common on both Instacart and Shipt, both services offer sales and coupon codes on individual items.

Shipt’s primary promo code is their generous referral program, which we’ll cover in a minute. Shipt also has a few additional coupons running at any point. Right now “PPHJB” will get you $20 off your first time order. You can also check the “What’s on Sale” category in the Shipt app to see current deals.

Instacart also occasionally has promo codes for users (like “XBAI411E8” for $5 off your first time order right now) but primarily promotes the coupon section of their app, which lists all the coupons you can use on your order this week. The coupon section is available in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen in the Instacart app.

Neither company honors in-store prices and sales.

Winner: Tie

Membership and Delivery Fees

Shipt has a membership fee of $99 per year or $14 per month, which you have to pay to be able to order from Shipt. All orders above $35 have free delivery and orders under $35 have a $7 delivery fee.

Instacart has an optional Express membership which costs $99 per year or $9.99 per month. All orders over $35 placed with an Express membership have free delivery. Orders placed without an Express membership incur a service fee of 5 percent of the order total with the minimum service fee being $3.99 ($5.99 in New York City.)

Instacart’s Express membership includes Express Delivery. One-hour delivery is free for Express members but is $7.99 + a 5 percent service fee for non-Express members. Same-day delivery and next-day delivery do not incur any extra charges with Instacart.

Winner: Instacart

Referral Credits

Shipt has a very generous referral program, offering both you and your referral a $50 value.  Your referral will get $50 off their annual membership fee (bringing it down to $49 for the first year) and you’ll get $50 in credits to spend on your next order with Shipt.

Instacart also allows you to refer friends and earn Instacart credits, although the program is less generous than Shipt’s. When you refer a friend to Instacart, both you and the friend get $10 in Instacart credits to be used for your orders. You are limited to five referrals with Instacart.

Winner: Shipt

Both Shipt and Instacart offer unlimited deliveries with their membership options but Instacart doesn’t require a paid membership in order to be able to try their service. This is the reason Instacart wins this section overall.

Winner for Deals: Instacart

Who Has Better Customer Service?

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Shipt has several options for reaching their customer service department, including live chat on their webpage, emailing [email protected], calling 1-205-502-2500, and through the Shipt app.

Instacart also has several options for contacting customer support 24/7. You can use the live chat on their website, email them at [email protected], or call them at 1-888-246-7822. Emails are generally responded to within two hours and it usually takes under 30 minutes to reach a Instacart customer service representative on the phone. If you’re in a hurry, try calling.

Winner for Customer Service: Instacart

Shipt vs Instacart: The Winner Is…

While both services have their pros and cons, the winner for this showdown is Instacart. If Instacart doesn’t operate in your city, using Shipt is absolutely worth it. It’ll save you the time and headache of going to the grocery store yourself.

While both grocery delivery services are great, Instacart wins by a small margin due to slightly speedier customer service and the ability to use the service without having to buy an Express membership. If you’re planning to buy a membership anyway, you may want to consider Shipt as those referral credits can add up quickly and offset the membership fee.

No matter which service you go with in this case, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and energy for just a small service, which is well worth it.

View All Comments (10) Add A Comment

  1. Logan Brown Says:

    Instacart is in WAY more markets then Shipt. Info is very inaccurate

  2. Cathy Gonzalez Says:

    I just feel like since I can’t get out to do my own shopping I lose out on the sales that come in the ads neither one will honor them. That’s kind of sad.

    1. Ashley Says:

      If they did the same deals than they wouldn’t make any money….it’s part of the service.

    2. Kimberly Bertele Says:

      Target has launched Shipt on their site so you can get the deals including cartwheel (now target circle) and 5% redcard. I’ve been using their same day pickup for awhile and having ppl pick up for me. For my Christmas dinner I was in a rush so I decided to use Shipt (which at target you can use without a membership and pay a flat $9.99 delivery). I placed a $250 order at 9am, paid $9.99 delivery, the shopper text me to say hello and ask about an item out of stock and at 11am I had my full order. I loved it.
      I did compare with Wal-Mart and giant eagle and though Wal-Mart seemed appealing at first… I added several items (to test) at 8am and it gave me the earliest delivery was 3pm for $7.99… I could pay $9.99 for 1pm… I left the site and came back about 30 min later and I was then told I couldn’t get delivery that day that all the slots were not available.
      Shipt was seamless and the shopper was remarkable… I am signing up (right now $20 off subscription- $79/yr and $20 off your order- so $59.99 for the year)…
      I’m looking into Instacart to supplement Shipt on an as needed basis (meats, petco, etc)

    3. Creed Says:

      one word BOGO.

  3. Charlene Says:

    If Walmart is in your area, they also deliver and their prices are the same online as in the store. I only wish that they would accept coupons.

  4. Dianna Durst Says:

    You are so wrong. Shipt is hands down the best service. I have been getting groceries delivered in Cincinnati for my 90 year old mother for over a year. I live in Alaska and as an only child this has saved me. The Shipt APP alias me to give specific delivery instructions which is very important to her. I also tell them to not text. Her number so a landline. They need to call. It allows us give specifics on items such as bananas…green if possible or small head of cabbage. I get a picture of the person who is delivering her items. I can call and say mom Susan is coming. On Shipt you tip after the order. When she is able to add items because Susan calls and asks do you need anything else she can up her tip. She can also leave notes on her next order like I lived the Michigan blueberries you substituted last time. They are not available on the shopping list but please add them if they have them. I am currently using Instacart in Alaska since I broke my ankle. There was no way for me to tell the person where I needed the groceries delivered to. He did not call or text me so I could not give him info. I could not get down the stairs. I finally through a magazine at the glass door to get his attention so he just left them on that porch and I called someone to get them. I had already tipped him. He gave white sandwich rolls when I had ordered whole wheat, the bag of apples contained molded ones and the bananas were ripe. There was no way I could leave a comment about this. I would not have left as a good a tip. I like that Shipt let’s me rate my shopping experience. I call my mom and add the tip and stars. She has never had anything but 5star deliveries for her SHIPT orders because we have the ability to tell them exactly what we want. I would rather pay more to get what I want versus waste food.

    1. Melanie Says:

      Hi Dianna. I wanted to clear things up with you on Instacart. I have been a shopper with them for well over a year . In my area, Instacart has the most customers. There are several options in the Instacart ordering system for substituting an item, you have to click at least two or more items to replace with if the store runs out of stock or you can simply put ‘no substitutions’. Also, under every grocery item on their ordering system there is a note section where you can add comments just like Shipt. I have done over 400 orders for Instacart and have received several 5 star ratings from customers. There is a rating system. If you download their instacart app on your phone, they have a chat system where you will be able to communicate with your shopper while they are shopping for your order and notify you if any changes. I did over a hundred delivery only orders and several customers have written instructions to where they wanted their groceries to be delivered at, i.e. their front porch or garage. I am guessing you did not download the instacart app on your phone to receive messages from the shopper or on their website. Also, if you were so worried about the tip, Instacart has a policy to where you can adjust the tip up to 3 days after you received your order. Whoever was your shopper, he simply did not call Instacart support to contact you to see if you were home or not. That’s what we are supposed to do if no one answers the door. He also wasn’t supposed to leave it on your front porch if no one answers the door. He must be a newbie at shopping.

  5. Karen Says:

    I can never get a hold of Shipt customer service and they do not return messages. When I call I am put on hold like………..forever.

  6. Chris Says:

    I recently started working for Instacart (and will be working with shipt soon as well). I can tell you those customer service numbers are no good, and their current level of service is subpar at best. Perhaps it’s all this virus nonsense but it is frustrating to say the least. I can comment about shipt’s service once I’ve started and have been there a bit.

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