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Work for Instacart and Get Paid to Shop

Last updated: March 30, 2020
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If you’ve been thinking about joining the gig economy but aren’t interested in driving people around for Uber or Lyft or being a caregiver through Care.com, consider working with Instacart. Instacart is a popular and fast-growing gig economy company that is always looking for more gigworkers who want to earn some extra money with them.

If you’re not sure if Instacart is a fit for your needs, keep reading. This article will walk you through everything you need to about working for Instacart from what Instacart is, explaining the Full-Service Shopper and In-Store Shopper roles and requirements, what you can expect to earn as an Instacart shopper, where Instacart operates and how to apply to be an Instacart shopper.

We’ll even cover how to find other roles at Instacart if you are looking for a full-time, in-office job instead of a side hustle.

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is the most popular on-demand grocery delivery service in the United States. Instacart makes customers’ lives easier by selecting and transporting their groceries right to their door. Instacart customers select the grocery items they want on Instacart.com or on the Instacart app and shoppers pick up and deliver those items to their homes.

Instead of having to drive to the local grocery store and spend time shopping for all of their items on a weekly basis, Instacart customers easily can do all their grocery shopping from the comfort of their homes. In exchange for a small delivery fee, an Instacart shopper does all the legwork for them, saving them time and energy.

Full-Service Shopper vs In-Store Shopper

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If you’re considering applying to Instacart as a shopper, you’ll need to choose between two different shopper roles: Full-Service Shopper and In-Store Shopper. While both Full-Service shoppers and In-Store shoppers pick up grocery items based on the client’s shopping list, the rest of the roles and the requirements are a bit different. We’ll compare them below.

Full-Service Shopper

As a Full-Service Shopper, you’ll most likely be responsible for choosing items at the local grocery store and for delivering them to the Instacart customer’s address. However, as an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you may only be responsible for delivering pre-selected and pre-packaged orders.

As a Full-Service Shopper, you’ll be an independent contractor with Instacart, not a part-time employee. The perks of being an independent contractor are that you’ll be able to set your own schedule around other commitments and decide how many hours you’d like to work each week. If you have reliable access to a vehicle, being a Full-Service Shopper is a very flexible way for you to make some extra cash on the side.

In-Store Shopper

As an In-Store Shopper, you’ll be responsible for collecting, purchasing, and bagging the grocery items on the customer’s shopping list. Once everything is bagged, you’ll hand off the delivery bags to a Full-Service Shopper or to the Instacart customer who has come to the grocery store to collect their prepared order.

As an In-Store Shopper, you’ll be a part-time employee and will only be able to work a maximum of 29 hours per week. In-Store Shoppers’ hours can vary depending on customer demand during the week, so 29 hours of work is not guaranteed on a week-to-week basis. As an In-Store Shopper, you’ll be assigned a local grocery store for each shift and will shop only at that store.

Instacart Shopper Requirements

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To work as a personal shopper with Instacart, you have to meet certain shopper requirements. Qualifying as a Full-Service Shopper is harder than qualifying as an In-Store Shopper. This is because Full-Service Shoppers also act as delivery drivers.

Full-Service Shopper

In order to be an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you must meet certain requirements, including having reliable access to a vehicle to deliver orders. To be an Instacart Full-Service Shopper you must:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be eligible to work legally in the United States
  • Have reliable access to a vehicle with appropriate car insurance
  • Have a smartphone that is compatible with the Instacart shopper mobile app (iPhone 5 or newer or Android 5.0 or newer)
  • Be able to lift 30–40 pounds with or without accommodation
  • Be able to pass the Instacart background check

In-Store Shopper

If you don’t meet the requirements to be an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you might qualify to be an Instacart In-Store Shopper. To be an Instacart In-Store Shopper, you must:

  • Be 17 years or older
  • Be eligible to work legally in the United States
  • Have a smartphone that is compatible with the Instacart shopper mobile app (iPhone 5 or newer or Android 5.0 or newer)
  • Be able to lift an average of 30–40 pounds several times per day
  • Be able to pass the Instacart background check

As an Instacart shopper, you’ll be expected to choose the exact items on the customer shopping lists. You’ll need to pay close attention to customer requests and be able to substitute products if their initial selection is out of stock or make sure to select the ripest fruits if the customer asks for them.

Being a successful Instacart shopper involves being quick on your feet and always keeping the customer’s needs in mind. If you enjoy grocery shopping, working as an Instacart personal shopper might be a fantastic way for you to earn extra income.

Instacart Shopper Earnings

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As Instacart In-Store shoppers are employees, not independent contractors, they are paid an hourly wage. What this hourly rate works out to depends on the city you’re working in, and ranges from $9 to $16 per hour with the average In-Store Shopper earning $14 per hour.

Your Instacart Full-Service Shopper earnings will depend on several factors, including which city you’re working in. Each region and city in the United States has its own payment structure. You’ll be informed of the payment structure for your city when you apply to work for Instacart.

Some common factors which determine your pay rate for delivering an order are:

  • Number of items: The bigger the order, the more you’ll earn for that order. This makes sense because picking out 25 grocery items will take longer than picking out seven.
  • Per mile rate: Drivers are paid a flat rate for each mile driven between the grocery store and the customer’s address.
  • Peak boosts: These are bonuses both shoppers and drivers get for working during peak hours.
  • Customer tips: 100 percent of customer tips go directly to their shoppers and drivers.

One great thing about Instacart is your ability to preview an order prior to accepting it. This enables you to see an estimate of what you’ll earn from any given order before you accept it so you can decide if it’s worth your time to take it. When you’re starting out, you shouldn’t be super picky about the orders you accept, but it’s always nice to know what you’ll be earning up front.

Instacart says its drivers earn substantially more than minimum wage once all the variables like tips and peak boosts are factored in. While your hourly wage will fluctuate based on several factors, working for Instacart can be a good way to earn great money while being able to set your own hours.

Where Does Instacart Operate?

Instacart operates in dozens of cities in the United States and Canada. Some of the markets with the highest demand for Instacart deliveries are Austin, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

You can check the complete list of cities where Instacart currently operates by clicking here.

How to Apply to Be an Instacart Shopper

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To apply to be an Instacart shopper, you need to go to their website and fill out the online form with your first name, last name, email, cell phone number, zip code, and a referral code if you have one.

Once you hit “Continue,” you’ll be taken to a questionnaire to confirm that you meet all the requirements to be either a Full-Service Shopper or an In-Store Shopper.

After completing the questionnaire, you’ll need to download the Instacart shopper app to finish the application process. A background check will be required at this point. Once you’ve passed the background check, you’ll complete the onboarding process.

Full-Service Shoppers can choose to complete the onboarding process online but In-Store Shoppers must complete the onboarding process in person. Once you’re through the onboarding process, you’ll be able to set your own schedule and start making some extra income.

Other Jobs at Instacart

While the most popular job to have with Instacart is as a shopper, Instacart is expanding rapidly and hiring for several full-time, in-office roles. You can check the current list of positions Instacart is hiring for by checking their career page.

All of Instacart’s hiring decisions (whether for a full-time, part-time, or independent contractor role) are made regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability status.

Working for Instacart = Flexible Cash

Whether you’re looking to pick up just one shift a week or want a steady part-time job, you should consider being an Instacart shopper. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash on a flexible schedule.

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