Instacart (US) uses personal shoppers to deliver groceries within an hour


Instacart is a same-day grocery delivery company delivering groceries and home essentials from a variety of local stores. It is a fulfilment solution that uses personal shoppers to deliver orders directly to customers’ homes. Fulfilment software organises orders and communicates with the personal shoppers that complete the shop. Picking is done from a range of retailers, with choice dictated by stores available in relevant markets. Delivery is available in under one, two hours, or at a later time. Orders over $35 gain free delivery, with smaller purchases facing a charge of $3.99. A ‘prime style’ service, Instacart Express, offers shoppers unlimited delivery within two hours for $99/year, which could increase order frequency to two to three times/week

Related items for most products helps recreate physical store environment for shoppers. Given pick model, shoppers are warned when items are likely to be substituted. Functionality to ‘shop with friends’ and share basket promotes co-buying and larger baskets.


The model is unique in online grocery. The software is smart and aggregates orders to improve efficiency. A tip system motivates ‘personal shoppers’ so quality of experience remains high. One challenge this business faces is its reliance on delivery charges for revenue, so the uptake of the ‘prime’ service could make or break its popularity.

(Source: IGD Retail Analysis)


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