What Is Instacart? Everything You Need to Know Before Placing Your First Order
For some, grocery shopping is one of their weekly highlights. We’ve heard people call it an enjoyable, almost therapeutic task where they get to walk up and down the aisles discovering new products and sifting through the bins to find the ripest fruits.
This isn’t the case for everyone. Many see grocery shopping as a time-sucking chore that provides little more than sustenance and weekly inconvenience.
If you fall in the latter camp, we’re happy to tell you there’s a way you can get all of your groceries delivered right to your door — Instacart.
In this article, we’re going to tell you a little bit about Instacart and cover some of the most commonly asked questions. If interested, we’ll also get you on your way to signing up and receiving your first grocery delivery.
What Is Instacart?
Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service that uses independent contractors to deliver groceries right to your door. Instead of heading to the grocery store to do your grocery shopping yourself, you can use the Instacart app to order all of your items and then an Instacart shopper will pick up and deliver your groceries to wherever you’re at.
Instacart was founded in San Francisco by Apoorva Mehta in 2012. After a few years of operation, Instacart quickly became a Silicon Valley darling and is now sitting at a nearly $8 billion valuation.
Instacart is now a nation-wide service that simplifies the grocery shopping experience and frees up time for consumers every single week. So how exactly does it work?
How Does Instacart Work?
Instacart allows you to add your favorite products to your grocery list, set your personal preferences, and add notes to your order. Then an Instacart shopper will pick up your items and deliver them to your home.
After you sign up for Instacart, you can log on and pick which store you want to order from. Once you choose your store, you can start building out your grocery list.
Instacart makes the online shopping process convenient and extremely user-friendly. You’ll first notice that you can search for products in a few different ways. You’ll be able to browse by product category, see new arrivals and featured products, and find current deals and coupons.
After finding a product you would like to order, you’ll tap the green “Add to Cart” button. At this point, you can leave any special instructions you’d like your personal shopper to know. For example, if you’re ordering an avocado, you might want to notify the shopper that you’d like one that’s slightly soft, perfect for making guacamole.
Additionally, if the product isn’t available, you can leave instructions as to how the shopper can replace it. For instance, if there aren’t any avocados, you can select guacamole as a substitute, or you can decide to refund the item if it’s out of stock.
At the completion of your order, you’ll be required to provide your delivery address, mobile phone number, payment method, and delivery time. One of the nice things about using Instacart is that you can opt for same-day delivery, sometimes within an hour or two, or you can schedule it for a future date.
Once your order is placed, you’ll be updated with notifications regarding the status of your delivery as your Instacart shopper finds all your items and delivers them to your door. You’ll be given updates regarding the estimated delivery time and when your order is en route to your home.
After it arrives, you’re all set! You can sit back, relax, and check one of your weekly chores off your list.
What Are the Benefits of Using Instacart?
For the most part, Instacart simplifies the grocery shopping process and is a huge time saver that frees up your schedule. It also helps people out who might not have convenient access to grocery stores or are incapable of grocery shopping themselves.
Think about living in a city where you’d need to carry all of your groceries home on the subway and then up four flights of stairs. This sounds like a huge pain that can be alleviated by using Instacart.
Or what about the mothers who need to bring the kids along to the grocery store then struggle to get in and out without a meltdown.
Then there are those who are just incapable of doing their own grocery shopping due to their age, physical restrictions, or lack of transportation. Instacart can take care of this for you, making life a little bit easier.
Outside of these scenarios, Instacart also allows you to save time by saving previous orders. That way you always have your grocery list ready to go with items you’ve previously ordered. It also enables you to occasionally save money by showing you current deals and coupons that you can use on your order.
Which Stores Does Instacart Work With?
If you decide to use Instacart, you won’t be able to order from any store in town. You’ll only be able to order from Instacart partner stores, which you’ll find on the Instacart app.
Some of the more popular stores you’ll find on the Instacart app are Costco, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Target, and ALDI. Depending on which city you’re in, you’ll have a unique list of grocery stores you can order from. Each city will offer a different set of grocery stores that Instacart is partnered with.
In order to see which local stores you can order from, log in to your Instacart account and tap the “Stores” link at the top. From there, you’ll be able to choose which grocery store you’d like to shop from.
You’ll also notice that some stores offer pick-up orders, delivery orders, or both. If you opt for the pick-up option, you’ll need to drive to the store to pick up your order and won’t be charged the delivery fee.
But what about if you decide to place a delivery order? What are the costs associated with using Instacart?
How Much Does Instacart Cost?
The cost of Instacart delivery will vary depending on which city you’re in, what time you order, and how many items are in your order. This delivery fee can range from $3 to $10 and sometimes, even more, depending on the order details.
If you have an order that has many items, you may be charged a higher delivery fee. For instance, if your order has 60 items compared to a smaller order of 10 items, you’ll likely be expected to pay more since you’re taking up more of your Instacart shopper’s time.
Also, if you place your order during a busy time, you may encounter “Busy Pricing” when checking out. This occurs when there are many Instacart orders and not enough Instacart shoppers. Due to supply and demand, you may be required to pay more.
This may also occur when you place an order and expect a quick turnaround like one-hour delivery or two-hour delivery. The shorter the delivery window, the more your delivery fee will be.
You should also account for tipping your shopper. Just like any other service job, tips aren’t required but are greatly appreciated by the hard-working shoppers. If you’re wondering what you should tip your shopper, check out our Instacart tipping guide.
Knowing all these costs, you may be thinking, “Is it worth it?” Well, there are a few ways you can save while using Instacart.
How Can I Save With Instacart?
If you’d like to save a few bucks here and there using Instacart, you can sign up for an Instacart Express Membership, apply a promo code, or refer a friend to the Instacart service.
The first option we’ll recommend is signing up for an Instacart Express Membership. This premium membership is perfect for frequent users of Instacart. By paying $99 per year, you can bypass the delivery fee on all orders over $35. Instacart Express also allows you to order from multiple stores in the same order without an extra fee. You also won’t be penalized for ordering during peak hours.
By quickly doing the math, if you expect to use Instacart between 10 and 15 times per year, you’d be foolish not to sign up for this deal.
Instacart also allows new users to apply a promo code to their first order. This could give you $5 to $10 off your first order and free delivery. For more information, you can check out our overview of Instacart promo codes.
Lastly, Instacart lets you refer friends to the Instacart service. If you refer a friend, your friend will receive $10 towards their first order, and you’ll receive $10 to use on your next order. You can refer as many friends as you’d like to keep racking up the bonuses.
Where Is Instacart Available?
Instacart is available all across the United States and even some cities in Canada. If you’d like to know if your region is being serviced by Instacart, you can head to this link. There you’ll find every city and region that has the convenience of Instacart delivery.
Where Do I Sign Up for Instacart?
To sign up for Instacart, you can simply head to Instacart.com, type in your zip code, and create your new account. You can do so by either filling out your name, email, and password, or you can opt to use your Facebook or Google login to speed up the process.
Once you place your order, you’ll be required to fill out your additional information like address, personal information, and credit card details.
Give It a Shot
Instacart delivery is one of those services where once you try it, you might not be able to go back to your old ways. The convenience alone makes the service fees worth it. We suggest signing up and giving it a shot. Grocery shopping has never been this easy.
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