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Instacart is a personal grocery shopping service that allows users to select products from a store of their choice and have them delivered to the door.

For many people, Instacart is a convenient and time-saving option that reduces the need to go to the grocery store. Home delivery services also offer a safer alternative to in-store shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article describes what Instacart is and how to use it. We also outline who may benefit most from using the service, while listing alternative providers.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these services. All information is purely research-based.

Instacart is a personal shopping available online and with Apple and Android devices. It allows people to view, select, and purchase products from a store of their choice. Once a user chooses a delivery slot, an independent contractor, known as a shopper, will select the order, pick up the items, and deliver them.

The stores that a person can purchase from depends on where they live. In general, Instacart provides access to a range of retailers, including:

  • grocery stores
  • pharmacies
  • big box stores
  • pet supply chains
  • office supply retailers

Instacart offers a free delivery service for new members. After this period, delivery fees start from $3.99, which vary according to the following factors:

  • time of day
  • a person’s location
  • size of the order

The delivery fee does not include a tip for the shopper.

To place an order on Instacart:

  1. Sign up for an account on Instacart.com.
  2. Log into the account via the web or by downloading the app.
  3. Select a store.
  4. Begin shopping: select the desired items, indicate the required quantity, and add them to the shopping cart. Select any preferences for substitutions.
  5. Choose a delivery slot.
  6. Pay for the order. Instacart places a hold on a debit or credit card, then charges the full amount after completing the order.
  7. Message the shopper through the Instacart app with additional questions or concerns.
  8. Tip the shopper before or after they fulfill the order.

The specific stores Instacart partners with vary by location. Some examples include:

  • grocers, such as:
    • Publix
    • Kroger
    • Aldi
    • Wegmans
    • Costco
  • pharmacies, such as CVS
  • retailers, such as:
    • Best Buy
    • Petco
    • Bed, Bath and Beyond

Grocery delivery is a convenient and potentially safer option for many people, including:

  • People concerned about COVID-19 or other infectious diseases: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend ordering groceries to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus. Grocery delivery services can reduce people physically going to stores, making shopping safer, even for those who choose to shop in-person.
  • People with certain health conditions: Certain health conditions may make in-store shopping difficult or stressful for some people. Those who struggle to shop due to mobility impairments, chronic fatigue, or other health issues may benefit from a home delivery service.
  • People making healthful dietary choices: Instacart makes it easier to plan recipes and stick to a specific shopping list without distraction or temptation. This may be helpful for people trying to maintain a moderate weight or follow a healthful eating plan.
  • People who want to avoid impulse buys: Purchasing groceries online eliminates the temptation to shop for items a person does not need.
  • People on a budget: Although grocery delivery costs extra, sticking to a specified list can help a person stay within their budget.
  • Busy people: Instacart may be helpful for those who work long hours or have caring responsibilities.

For some people, Instacart is a convenient and time-saving way to shop. For others, it may seem like an unnecessary luxury.

Below are some factors to consider in determining whether Instacart is right for a person:

  • do they enjoy grocery shopping?
  • can they get everything they need with Instacart?
  • can the service save them time?
  • does using Instacart improve health, such as reducing coronavirus exposure in high-risk areas?
  • how much does tipping shoppers add to budgets?
  • how do they view their paying policies for shoppers?

Instacart is one of many grocery delivery services, with other options including:

  • Shipt: Shipt operates using a similar model to Instacart, delivering products from a variety of retailers.
  • Walmart: Walmart’s delivery service provides unlimited groceries for a small monthly fee.
  • Amazon Fresh: Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service available to Amazon Prime members, offering fresh foods from the company’s warehouses.

Instacart is a personal shopping service that allows people to purchase products from a store of their choice and have the items delivered to their door.

For many users, the service greatly reduces the stress and hassle of grocery shopping. It may be particularly beneficial for people who are shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic, or for those with underlying health conditions that limit their ability to shop in-store.

Instacart is one of many personal shopping and delivery services. People can try researching different delivery apps to find the right one for them.