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As the demand for convenient gig economy apps like Uber and DoorDash continue to grow, grocery delivery services are naturally rising, too. Consumers are seeking ways to make their daily lives easier, and when it comes to grocery shopping, they’re choosing platforms like Instacart as their ideal solutions. For anyone in need of extra cash, this means Instacart jobs may be on the rise, too.
Instacart quickly shot to the top of the grocery delivery industry following its 2012 launch in San Francisco. Throughout its growth, the company built a strong network of part-time workers and independent contractors to fulfill the deliveries at the heart of its platform. These workers are now collectively known as Instacart Shoppers.
This guide will provide a thorough comparison of the two types of Instacart jobs that you can take on to shop and earn.
- 2 Types of Instacart Jobs
- Instacart Shopper Requirements
- Instacart Shopper Earnings
- Instacart Shopper Schedules
- Frequently Asked Questions
2 Types of Instacart Jobs
When you apply to become an Instacart Shopper, the first decision you need to make is whether you want to apply as a Full-Service Shopper or an In-Store Shopper. But before you can make this critical choice, you need to understand exactly what each role entails. In this section, we’ll provide an introduction to each of these Instacart jobs.
The Full-Service Shopper role is the classic grocery delivery gig that most people refer to when they use the terms “Instacart driver” or “delivery driver.” The workers who fill this position are responsible for completing the entire delivery process, including shopping at the grocery store and driving the order straight to customers’ doors.
Though the term “full-service” may seem intimidating, the gig is easy to complete. All the information that these shoppers need to accept and complete orders — including customers’ shopping lists and drop-off locations — are clearly provided in the Instacart Shopper app.
Full-Service Shoppers interact directly with grocery store workers and customers more than any other Instacart employee. Due to this, you’ll find yourself using your customer service and communication skills frequently to navigate this role.
The In-Store Shopper job is even simpler, eliminating the need for any driving. Instead of performing deliveries, these shoppers are stationed at a specific partner grocery store solely to pack orders whenever requests come in. Instead of delivering each order, all they need to do is to stage it in a designated pick-up area.
Just like Full-Service Shoppers, these in-store Instacart workers use the Instacart Shopper app to get all the information they need for incoming requests. However, they tend to work behind the scenes, which makes getting to know their assigned grocery store a bigger part of their jobs.
Instacart Shopper Requirements
It’s easy to qualify for both types of Instacart jobs. The requirements for these shopping gigs are relaxed, allowing many applicants to easily get the green light to start earning. To become a new worker for the grocery delivery service, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be eligible to work within the U.S.
- Be able to pass a background check
- Be able to lift at least 50 pounds
- Own a smartphone that’s compatible with the Instacart Shopper app (iPhone 5, Android 4.4, or newer)
Because Full-Service Shoppers are delivery drivers, anyone in this role must additionally have a driver’s license, vehicle insurance, and consistent access to a car. Though Instacart isn’t strict with its vehicle requirements, your car should be in good condition and have secure (and preferably large) cargo space.
Instacart Shopper Earnings
While shopper requirements are largely the same, there are a few key differences between the two Instacart jobs when it comes to earnings.
To start, the average pay for Full-Service Shoppers is $14 per hour before tips, while In-Store Shoppers make an average of $13 per hour. In order to dive further into this, it’s important to first know that delivery drivers are classified as independent contractors, whereas In-Store Shoppers are part-time Instacart employees.
As independent contractors, Instacart drivers are never actually guaranteed any hourly wage, so their earnings can actually end up far higher or far lower than the $14 per hour average. This is because they’re paid based on an algorithm that takes into account distance traveled, order size, effort, and other factors.
Gratuity can also make a huge difference in how much Instacart drivers make. Instacart doesn’t take any cut of customer tips, so odds are, Full-Service Shoppers will at least get 5% gratuity (the tip default on the Instacart app) for every order. However, Instacart’s tip system doesn’t require any tip, so your final earnings can depend on your quality of service and your luck with customers, too.
As part-time workers, In-Store Shoppers have a more stable hourly wage. While they don’t typically get tips, they do qualify for benefits like sick time and severance pay, and have guaranteed pay even when no requests roll in.
The possibility of hazard pay for both Instacart jobs has been in discussion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Instacart Shoppers are currently fighting for a $5 payment per order for working in unsafe conditions, though the company is still only providing sparse bonuses when demand is high.
Instacart Shopper Schedules
Instacart’s shoppers work on two very different types of schedules.
Due to their classification as contractors — which means they work on behalf of Instacart, not for Instacart — Full-Service Shoppers get to work completely on their own schedules. They can accept the orders (or “batches”) with time frames that work for them, while letting other drivers take on the rest. In this full-service role, you’re in complete control of when you work and when you log off — as long as you don’t walk off in the middle of a shopping trip, that is.
While there are no guarantees that you’ll get any batches, there are also no minimum or maximum hours you need to work. You can choose to complete just a couple batches in a week, or work a full-time equivalent if there are enough batches.
In-Store Shoppers, on the other hand, must schedule shifts. Though they still get to form a flexible schedule that largely works around their obligations, they are required to commit to the time frames they select.
Customers can choose delivery time frames between 9 a.m. and midnight, which means Full-Service Shoppers may be able to work throughout these hours. In-Store Shoppers are limited to shifts within their assigned grocery store’s operating hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know the difference between full-service and in-store Instacart jobs, you can start to make your final decision on which is the best fit for you. If you want more information to help you decide, read our answers to these frequently asked questions:
1. Does Instacart have office jobs that I can apply for?
You can definitely get an Instacart job that doesn’t require any shopping or driving. The company hires engineers, marketers, legal talent, and more skilled workers for its offices in Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Chicago, and more major cities. These are typically full-time positions that come with salaries and benefits like health care and life insurance.
You can browse through current openings to figure out if anything matches your skills and interests.
2. Are full-service and in-store Instacart jobs available in every market?
Applications are open to potential shoppers in any Instacart market, though Instacart may not be actively accepting drivers if the local demand isn’t high enough. You’ll be put on a wait list if shoppers are not needed when you apply.
You can browse through Instacart markets on this locations page to see if you live in a place where the grocery delivery service operates.
3. Can I work as an In-Store Shopper and a Full-Service Shopper?
If you want to sign up for both Instacart jobs, there’s nothing stopping you. You can definitely take advantage of both types of gigs if you want to get a mix of stability and flexibility. However, keep in mind that the In-Store Shopper role does require consistent commitment, since you will be a part-time employee.
Get the Gig That Works for You
No matter what type of Instacart job you take on, you’ll have the chance to become a household hero for many busy families throughout the United States. Instacart Shoppers are constantly helping customers get easy access to food, cleaning supplies, and more essentials from local grocery stores when they need it most.
Whether you’re just shopping or shopping and driving, you’ll be making money by performing a service that’s in high demand — all on a flexible schedule.
If you’re interested in expanding beyond grocery deliveries and taking on package delivery too, you can consider becoming an Amazon worker instead. Learn how to apply for Amazon Flex and help fulfill a wide variety of delivery types, while working closely with other team members, like Amazon warehouse workers and Whole Foods employees.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.