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What is Instacart? How to use the grocery delivery app

Modern-day technology has made it really easy to shop from home. You can order food via your smartphone with just a few taps, you can shop for books and household supplies via online retailers such as Amazon, and now you can even have groceries delivered straight to your door. One of the most popular grocery delivery apps is Instacart, which you can use to receive your groceries in as little as an hour. A shopper near you will help you pick up everything you need and deliver it all straight to your door. How does this magical tool work, you ask? We break down everything you need to know about the app.

What is Instacart?

Instacart allows you to shop your favorite grocery stores from the comfort of your home, using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Select the items you want and schedule a delivery. Provided the service isn’t experiencing unusually long wait times, the groceries can be delivered to your doorstep in as little as an hour. You can also request for your groceries to be delivered later in the day, the next day, or even in a few days.

You also have the option of picking the groceries up yourself in the store, which still saves you the hassle of walking the aisles in search of your desired items. Simply shop for what you want on Instacart, select a pickup time, and show up to the grocery store later to pick up your items. Only select locations of some grocery stores offer the pickup option.

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Who shops for you?

A personal shopper will choose all your produce for you, carefully selecting fresh items on your behalf. You can also leave a note for your shopper, specifying the level of ripeness you’d prefer for your fruits and vegetables. For example, if you’re planning to make banana bread tomorrow, you’ll want very ripe fruit, but if you’re preparing avocado toast next week, you may want to specify less ripe produce. Instacart shoppers are also attentive to expiration dates, so you don’t have to worry about receiving items that expire tomorrow. Shoppers handle fragile items such as eggs and glass jars with care.

If an ordered item is out of stock, the shopper will find you a close replacement, verifying it with you before purchasing it. If you have dietary restrictions, order unique food items, or order several items that are out of stock, this can become kind of a pain, as the personal shopper may contact you multiple times during their shopping trip.

How much does Instacart cost?

Delivery fees range from $4 to $8, depending on how busy Instacart is at the time and the size of your order. For $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month, you can sign up for a subscription called Instacart Express, which provides unlimited deliveries on orders over $35. In addition to a delivery fee, you also pay a service fee, which is 5% on non-alcoholic items and between $2 and $10 for alcohol (depending on the price). Express members pay a lower service fee, which starts at 1.9%. Additionally, you pay a tip to your shopper. The default tip amount is 5%.

So, let’s say you order $200 worth of groceries during a busy time. You’ll end up paying an additional $24 to $28 in fees and a tip — a $4 to $8 delivery fee, a $10 services fee, and a $10 tip.

What stores does Instacart deliver from?

To find out the stores from which Instacart offers delivery, enter your zip code here. If Instacart delivers in your area, you’ll find a list of grocery stores that your Instacart shopper can visit on your behalf. New stores get added to the list pretty routinely, so you can check back to see if your favorite store has made the cut.

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How do I get a referral bonus?

Refer your friends to use Instacart to save a bit on your own grocery orders. Send people Instacart credit via email, Facebook, Twitter, or another form of social media. Then, once they make their first purchase on Instacart, you’ll receive a $10 credit in return. Your friend will also get a $10 credit on their first order. You can refer up to five friends.

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Can I become an Instacart shopper?

If you’re in the market for a part-time job that offers flexibility and the ability to choose your own hours, Instacart could be an option to consider. Instacart hires both Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers. Full-Service Shoppers are independent contractors who shop for and deliver orders. There is no maximum cap on weekly hours, although these contractors are required to have a vehicle with the proper insurance coverage. In-Store Shoppers are part-time employees who can only work up to 29 hours a week, and those hours will fluctuate on a weekly basis based on customer demand. In-Store Shoppers also stay at a single store location for the duration of their shift, helping customers shop for their orders — thus, these employees don’t have to own a car. For more information about the signup process, you’ll need to go through to become a shopper. Click here.

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Erika Rawes
Smart Home Evergreen Coordinator
Erika became a professional writer in 2010, and her work is published all over the web on sites ranging from USA Today to…
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