Here at Thrifty Squad, I’ve covered various restaurant delivery side gigs such as Postmates, GrubHub, and uberEATS. While restaurant delivery is an ever-expanding niche of the gig economy, I’ve been very curious about what grocery delivery was like and how it compares to restaurant delivery gigs.
So I recently signed up to become a Shopper with Instacart. Check out my Instacart Shopper review below to find out what my experience was like, and feel free to use my Instacart Shopper Referral Code: MATTHEWD551FA. For the video review scroll to the end of this post.
What is Instacart and How Does it Work?
Instacart is a grocery delivery app and website where customers in various cities can order groceries for same-day delivery. Payments occur entirely through the app or website for both the groceries and delivery fees.
Unlike other grocery delivery services, customers do not necessarily have to pay a monthly subscription fee although a special program available in select cities called Instacart Express allows for unlimited deliveries for a set monthly price.
Much like other on-demand apps, the delivery people are independent contractors who use their own vehicles and set their own schedules. If you want to become a Shopper, you can always try it out as a customer first to see what the experience is like.
What Types of Gigs are Available?
Instacart has some flexibility depending on the type of work you’d like to do. If you are an “In-Store Shopper” you will only pick orders from a specific grocery store and you do not have to drive to deliver the orders. You must be at least 18 years old and have access to a smartphone to apply. In-Store Shoppers are classified as part-time employees.
On the other hand, if you are interested in being a “Full Service Shopper” (which is what I did) you will do BOTH delivery and the shopping. You must have your own vehicle, access to a smartphone, and have some driving experience. Full Service Shoppers are considered independent contractors and NOT employees.
Both Full Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers are paid weekly and given flexible scheduling.
What’s it Like as a Full Service Shopper?
Similar to other on-demand gigs, you will be assigned an area to do your deliveries in and given a series of orders to pick. You get an alert on the dedicated Instacart Shopper app that shows you where the store is that you will need to pick up the order from.
Once you check in, the app displays a list of groceries. They claim to be in the best order for your route through the store, but in practice sometimes they weren’t and I had to go through the entire list before I exited each department of the grocery store. All of your stats are measured, including the average time per item you pick up, so it’s makes for an exciting challenge sort of like Supermarket Sweep.
As a whole, I spent much more time per order doing grocery delivery than I did with restaurant delivery through Postmates and GrubHub, and I also drove longer distances. However I also made more money per order so it kind of balanced out.
Unlike Postmates, I wasn’t able to just get in my car and start working/quit working when I wanted to. Full Service Shoppers in my area were required to sign up for specific hours, and they were on a first come, first service basis. When I signed up for slow shift, however, I was always given an option to close up shop early and go home without penalty.
How Do I Sign Up?
The sign-up process is pretty straightforward: you’ll need to meet the criteria listed on their website, pass a background check, and then receive your Instacart credit card in the mail to actually complete the orders (it’s a pre-loaded card that you use to pay for the orders similar to Postmates).
Take note that some stores (like Costco) have extra requirements and training you have to go through before you can do delivery from them. They also didn’t send me free bags, and I had to pay for special bags with a pay deduction which was kind of a bummer.
Still, I would say it’s worth checking out. I’ve always enjoyed grocery shopping so it was kind of a fun side gig and the clientele for grocery delivery is a different crowd (skews older, more families and less single people, more suburban) than most restaurant delivery services.
Feel free to use my Instacart Shopper Referral Code: MATTHEWD551FA
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