Extra busy? Too tired? Are family members or pets demanding your undivided attention? Missing a key ingredient for that favorite recipe? Just need a little longer to finish that work-at-home gig? Or, just feel like relaxing at home or doing anything besides buying groceries?
Your Instacart personal shopper and home delivery person may not dress like Wonder Woman or Spiderman, but in your eyes he or she just might be forever immortalized as your favorite superhero.
So blossoms hero worship as you log online with your mobile device or computer; place an order with your favorite grocer or CVS Pharmacy on their web portal or at instacart.com; go back to enjoying or plugging away at what you were doing; and answer the door that same day when your personal shopper delivers the order.
Marketing itself as the nation’s largest on-demand grocery delivery service, Instacart launched Feb. 8 in the Quad Cities, Verde Valley and Flagstaff. That total delivery area covers more than 111,000 households and has provided income opportunities for 100 individuals as personal shoppers. The San Francisco-based company has expanded to more than 200 markets since 2012 and partnered with national chains and regional grocers across North America.
Potential customers enter their zip code on a website or mobile app to determine if the delivery service is available to their address. In some zip codes, orders can be delivered in as few as one or two hours. Quad Cities partner merchants include Costco Wholesale, CVS Pharmacy, Fry’s Food Stores, Natural Grocers, Safeway and Sprouts Farmers Market. CVS delivers cold and flu essentials, but no prescriptions.
Answering the Call from Busy Consumers
Research indicates that nearly 40 percent of Instacart customers are so busy with work, children and life in general that they do not have time to shop. The service is helpful for older adults, the homebound and individuals with limited mobility. Personal shoppers in distant cities can deliver to loved ones.
“Instacart helps customers check grocery shopping off their to-do lists with just a few clicks so they can spend that time doing what they love,” explained Dacyl Armendariz, company communications manager. “Many customers tell us they like that Instacart reduces impulse buying and helps them make healthier choices in general by removing the element of temptation as they walk through the aisles of the store.”
From the perspective of Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market, “home delivery is a natural way for Sprouts to engage with our customers in these areas on their healthy living journey,” said spokesperson Kalia Pang. “We’ll continue to integrate digital and mobile strategies into our unique shopping experience so that customers can engage with our brand whenever, however they want.”
Sprouts has two stores in the Quad Cities: one in Prescott Valley and its more recent Prescott location, which opened in March of last year. Deliveries can be made in as little as an hour, scheduled for later in the day, or as far as five days in advance. Personal shopper hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
New Instacart customers who sign up at delivery.sprouts.com will receive their first delivery free, Pang said. Future delivery fees will depend on the order size and the delivery time selected, she noted. Delivery fees for most cities start at $5.99, and tipping is optional.
“Shoppers in these markets enjoy Sprouts’ fresh, natural and organic groceries at great prices, and by offering home delivery, we’ll be able to reach even more shoppers who may be able to not visit our stores in person,” Pang said. “Instacart’s extensive delivery network allows us to quickly scale for growth.”
Retailer Benefits in a Digital Age
Armendariz stated that “retail stores partner with Instacart because we are the only independent provider for the grocery industry and we help them compete even more in this increasingly digital age. In addition to seeing incremental sales from their partnership with Instacart, our partners are able to provide their customers with another convenient option for shopping at their stores.”
The Instacart landing page for each store offers a standard layout, company logo and custom information. Coupons and special offers specific to the stores are available and customers can shop by browsing store categories and/or departments. New Instacart customers can use the code HIFLAGSTAFF (expires 4/8/18) to receive $20 off their first order of $35 or more and the first delivery is always free, said Armendariz. From Sprouts, more than 12,000 products are available for delivery, including farm-fresh produce, meat and seafood, dairy, bulk foods, frozen items and beer and wine.
For customers interested in a membership discount, Instacart Express provides unlimited deliveries for orders above $35; orders from multiple participating stores for no extra fee in a single delivery; and relief from paying more for the Uber-made-famous concept of “busy pricing” during peak hours. A trial of Instacart Express converts to a $149 annual membership fee after 14 days. Auto renewals are standard and cancellation is permitted at any time.
Pricing caveats are described for each store, with Natural Grocers, Sprouts and CVS Pharmacy utilizing “everyday store prices” for home delivery, while Fry’s Foods and Safeway are described as charging higher than in-store prices, and Costco Wholesale offers an opportunity to review its pricing policy.
Who are the Shoppers?
Instacart shoppers are students, retirees, professionals who shop to earn extra income in addition to their day jobs, and primary caretakers looking for a flexible income-earning opportunity, Armendariz noted, with about 70 percent of shoppers across North America seeking supplemental income.
“We will be onboarding 100 Instacart shoppers across the Prescott and Flagstaff area,” Armendariz added. “That said, we are constantly evaluating our shopper numbers to make sure we are meeting demand. All of the shoppers onboard for the launch will be full service contract shoppers. As the Prescott and Flagstaff area matures, we will evaluate adding instore shoppers who are part-time employees of Instacart.”
Though the company generally has met its shopper hiring goal for the launch, Armendariz said Instacart is always on the lookout for “more people who love to grocery shop and are interested in earning income on a flexible schedule.” Basic requirements include: minimum age of 18 (21 if delivering alcohol); ability to lift at least 40-plus pounds; possessing a smartphone; passing a background check; and meeting specific driving and vehicle requirements. The average hourly rate for a contract shopper is about $14. More information is available at https://shoppers.instacart.com.
Both Pang and Armendariz expressed enthusiasm at entering the Northern Arizona market.
“Sprouts is expanding home delivery via Instacart to customers in all of our major markets nationwide,” Pang announced. “And we’re excited to offer this convenience to even more shoppers in our home state of Arizona, as we expand to Prescott and Flagstaff.”
Instacart’s company goal is “to offer same-day delivery to 80 percent of American households by the end of the year,” Amendariz explained. “We have seen a high level of demand for Instacart – based on customers coming to our website and entering their zip codes – in the Prescott and Flagstaff areas, so we are thrilled to have launched here.” QCBN
By Sue Marceau, QCBN
Independent contractor Jessica Rostine fulfills an order at the Prescott Sprouts Farmers Market in a joint venture with Instacart delivery services, which has recently entered the Quad Cities market with its grocery delivery offering through multiple grocers. Customers place orders online and photos of the desired products are presented via cell phone to personal shoppers/delivery personnel such as Rostine. Photo by Sue Marceau