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How Does Instacart Work For Customers? [Step-By-Step]

From sign-up to convenient door deliveries, discover the magic of Instacart and learn how it works to provide a hassle-free shopping experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Order easily via app or website; choose delivery time and substitutions.
  • Instacart offers both delivery and self pick-up options for convenience.
  • Costs include item prices, delivery/service fees, and optional tipping.
  • Available in major U.S. cities and Canada; check ZIP code for service.

How to Order Groceries on Instacart

Using Instacart is easy; all you need is internet access through your computer or smartphone. To access Instacart services and place an order for delivery:

  1. Sign up to Instacart and log in to your account on the Instacart app or website.
  2. Enter your zip code and choose from the stores listed in your area.
  3. Start shopping by filling your virtual cart with all the items you wish to buy.
  4. Pick your desired delivery time slot and preferred grocery substitutions.
  5. Provide your payment information, including any coupons and promotion codes.
  6. Submit your order and wait for your delivery driver at your chosen time.

Check out this YouTube video for the in-depth, step-by-step guide.

Typically, the delivery window on Instacart ranges between nine in the morning to midnight. You can choose to have your goods delivered anytime within these hours, provided the designated store is open.

Tip: After placing your order, keep your phone close at hand to quickly respond to any texts from your personal shopper. Usually, Instacart shoppers will reach out in case items are out of stock to discuss alternatives or cancellations.

Instacart provides notifications about shoppers’ progress from when they’re dispatched to the store to when they start driving toward you.

Instacart Self Pick-Up Orders

In addition to the grocery delivery service, Instacart has recently added a pickup option to cater to customers who want the convenience of a personal shopper but don’t need a home delivery.

Like the traditional delivery service, you’ll still be connected to an Instacart shopper who’ll prepare your order. However, instead of having your groceries delivered, you’ll get a notification when your order is ready and a pickup time.

The Instacart app will ask you to confirm when you set off and when you get to the store. This way, your shopper will bring out your order and help pack it into your car at exactly the right time. Typically, partner stores have designated areas for Instacart pick-ups for convenience.

How Much Does Instacart Cost?

The total cost of your order starts with the price of the items you buy. Note, however, that Instacart doesn’t set the price of the products in their catalog; this remains at the discretion of the retailers.

As such, some items will cost more or less than the in-store prices. Also, items that must be weighed have estimated prices.

That said, here’s a quick estimation of what you can expect to pay for your Instacart order:

  • Grocery items: Some stores charge slightly more on Instacart than they do for in-person shoppers. Check out the pricing policies displayed or linked under each store on the app or website.
  • Delivery fee: Typically, Inscart charges between $3.99 and $7.99 for a delivery. Expedited delivery requests usually cost more, with the exact value varying by city or region.
  • Service fee: Non-alcoholic items attract a 5 percent service fee, with a $2 minimum. Alcohol attracts an additional service fee of $2 (for the first $35 worth of alcohol purchased) and up to $10.
  • Surge pricing: You’ll notice slightly higher delivery charges during peak hours when there’s increased demand in your location.
  • A tip: Instacart shoppers are independent contractors who rely on tips. As such, the Instacart app will automatically recommend a 5% tip. However, tipping your Instacart Shopper at least 15% is customary.

Note: Instacart doesn’t charge a grocery delivery fee for pick-up orders. Instead, you may need to pay a pick-up fee of up to $5, depending on your location and order size.

Instacart Availability: Where Can You Access Inscart?

Instacart delivery service is available in most major cities across the U.S., including San Francisco (where it was founded), Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. You can check if the service is available in your area by searching your ZIP code on the app or website.

The service is also available in Canada, where you can also confirm availability in your area using your postal code.

In all these locations, participating stores vary from region to region. Additionally, not all partner store branches work with Instacart in every city.

Enter your ZIP code into the app to see the complete list of available stores in your location. Some of the most common partner retailers include:

  • Costco
  • Target
  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Kroger
  • Walmart

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Order Medication on Instacart?

Yes. CVS, Wegmans, and Costco are among Instacart’s partner retailers. You can order over-the-counter medications from these stores. Prescription medications are only limited to retailers who have the staff to complete your order, and you must show your ID at delivery.

How Do Instacart Shoppers Pay for Groceries?

In-store shoppers use an Instacart-funded card called the Instacart Shopper Card to pay for customers’ groceries at checkout. This ensures that personal shoppers don’t have to use their cash unless in special circumstances, like when the card declines.

Do You Need a Membership to Use Instacart?

No, there’s no membership requirement to shop on Instacart. However, the optional Instacart+ membership program might be worth considering. For $99 annually ($9.99 monthly), you get reduced service fees, free deliveries for orders above $35, a Peacock subscription, and more.

Wrapping Up

There you have it; everything you need to know to get started with Instacart and enjoy the convenience of an Instacart shopper and hassle-free shopping.

However, if you still need some help navigating Instacart, check out in-depth guides about the platform on our blog. And if you’re ready to jump in, here’s an Instacart promo code for new users to welcome you into the fold.

Happy shopping!

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