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How does InstaCart work?

In this article, you’ll learn what the entire online grocery shopping process is like with Instacart, how much it costs, and if it’s right for you.

Going shopping requires a lot of time and effort every week. You have to plan your meals to list the ingredients you need and examine your refrigerator for missing items. You then have to drive to the grocery store, search for each item, go through the checkout line, and then transport it all home.

Actually, there is a fairly inexpensive solution to avoid all that hassle. It’s a grocery shopping service called Instacart but how does Instacart work?

How does Instacart work?

The concept of Instacart is very simple. Basically, you are paying someone to do your shopping for you. You can choose from any Instacart-enabled supermarket in your area. In most cases, that includes all the major supermarket chains you prefer.

When you register and log into your account for the first time, you’ll see a list of suggested grocery chains and whether they support the full delivery or pickup-only experience.

  • Delivery: This is a full service. A shopper will walk through the store, find the products you ordered, pay for you, and deliver everything to your door.
  • Pickup: This is a partial service. A shopper will gather their list of items throughout the store and everything will be ready for you to pick up.

What to expect after payment

Once you submit your order, you can track your shopper’s progress as they shop in the store. This is what you can expect during the purchase process.

  • Until the purchase begins, you can update your order.
  • Once your shopper is browsing the store, you can chat with them anytime using the Instacart app or website.
  • If your buyer can’t find a specific item, it will suggest a replacement. You can accept it or select a refund instead.
  • When it’s time for delivery, you’ll see an estimated arrival time, as well as a map showing the driver’s location.

Once the driver arrives at your house, he or she usually knocks on your door and delivers the groceries to your kitchen counter. In times like COVID-19, this may change for your safety. In this case, the driver will deliver the groceries to your door and send you a text letting you know your order has arrived.

How much will it cost?

Let’s talk about how much more shopping with Instacart will cost more than it would cost to go to the supermarket you.

There are special times when Instacart will offer free shipping rates. This is one of the best deals you can get. It’s like having someone else get your shopping for free. However, most of the time you will have to pay Instacart’s usual delivery fee.

Here are all the fees you’ll need to consider when ordering Instacart delivery:

  • Delivery Fee: Usually starts around $3.99 for same-day orders if you’re buying more than $35 worth of groceries. You must purchase more than $10 worth of products or you cannot order Instacart delivery.
  • Heavy Fee: If the combined weight of your groceries exceeds 50 pounds, which is not typical, you will also have to pay a heavy fee that varies.
  • Service Fee: amounts to 5% of your order and covers Instacart’s operating costs.
  • Sales Tax: Items where you need to pay sales tax will all be added here and displayed.
  • Delivery Tip: This is where you can show your shopper consideration by offering a small tip. 15% is a good rule of thumb, but many customers offer up to a 20% tip.

If you plan to use Instacart for all your weekly grocery shopping, you’d better sign up for Instacart Express. The cost of this membership is $99 per year or $9.99 per month.

This membership could pay for itself in as little as two to three months. Instacart Express benefits include:

  • Without shipping charges
  • Reduced service fees
  • Avoid higher rates during peak delivery times
  • Get free delivery with participating stores

Is Instacart Right for You?

In deciding whether to use Instacart, there are just a few things to consider. The most important thing is how valuable your time is. Grocery shopping can easily eat up a couple of hours of your day.

Using Instacart is like paying someone just $10 to $15 (depending on fees) to shop for you.

However, there are other things to consider. Often when ordering meat, the shopper may purchase packages that are close to expiration. In this case, you pay the price on Instagram’s website, while Instagram keeps the difference. You can get fresher meat for the same price by buying from the store yourself. The same goes for store discounts on non-meat products. In the end, you still know what you’re paying for (the prices on Instagram’s website, which usually match normal store prices). But you don’t get the benefit of any additional store discounts.


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