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How Instacart Replacements Work & How To Use Them

Instacart replacements allow you to get all you need, even if specific products are out of stock. Learn how to make the most out of this feature.

Key Takeaways

  • Shoppers contact you via app for replacements, allowing choice or cancellation.
  • “Find Best Match” lets shoppers pick replacements, “Pick Specific Replacement” for customer choice.
  • Select “Don’t Replace” for unavailable items to receive an automatic refund.
  • Leave detailed replacement instructions in the app for personalized shopping experience.


What Are Instacart Replacements?

Instacart replacements are an excellent way to get the items you need, even if the specific brand is unavailable.

In this case, your Instacart shopper can contact you, get similar items, or refund them.

This option ensures you have the best shopping experience without leaving your home. The process is seamless for both you and the shopper.

Instacart replacements don’t mean you’ll be stuck with items you don’t want. Instead, you can contact Instacart in case of poor replacements.

Alternatively, you might provide specific replacement instructions or reach out to your shopper.

How Replacements Works

Instacart replacements are incredibly simple. You won’t be surprised by unknown items after your order gets delivered.

If an item is out of stock, any of the following can happen:

1. Best Match Replacement

This is the default option, relying on the Instacart shopper’s judgment. They’ll choose the item that best matches the product you require. Your shopper might contact you to confirm the replacement.

2. Customer’s Preferences

If you have specific requirements, you can select “Choose Replacement” and pick from the stock items. Otherwise, you might add item instructions to your shopper.

3. No Replacement

By selecting “Don’t Replace”, you’ll get a refund if the item is out of stock.

In any of the above cases, Instacart will notify you if a product in your order is unavailable. Then, you can contact the shopper to specify your item preferences.

If you don’t, the shopper will choose the best match, and you’ll get notified of the replacement item after the product is rung up.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

As a note, the “Special Instructions” section should only be used for instructions, not used to notate which items you would like a replacement for.

While selecting replacements, make sure to do so within the product itself in the Instacart app. If you don’t it’ll get a bit messy on the end of the shopper.

Cost of Replacements and Refunds

Typically, your Instacart delivery driver will try to match up the replacement item as well as possible, including the price. That said, most items won’t have the exact price tag.

The price difference will be reflected in your Instacart balance, meaning you’ll either need to pay extra or get a refund.

You’ll pay for the item after your shopper has made the purchase. Accordingly, if the replacement item doesn’t match your preferences, you should contact the shopper before they check out.

If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you can request a refund by choosing “Poor Replacement” as a reason for the refund. You have seven business days to request a refund.

However, it’s best to contact Instacart as soon as possible.

To request a refund, just click on your order and contact Instacart. Instacart can either directly issue a refund, which will take five to ten business days to reflect in your bank account, or credit your Instacart balance.

In some cases, you might only get a partial refund if Instacart deems your product as a best-match replacement.

If you’ve already picked the “Don’t Replace” option, the price of the out-of-stock item will immediately be refunded.

You’ll still have to wait for the refund to be processed, depending on your bank’s regulations.

If you don’t see the refund amount after ten business days, contact Instacart customer service to assist you with your issue.

Tutorial: Adding a Replacement in the Instacart App

The Instacart app simplifies user experience in numerous ways, including picking replacements.

In fact, even if you don’t choose a replacement in the app, most shoppers will contact you before making a decision.

Still, adding a replacement in the Instacart app makes the shopper’s job much easier.

To add a replacement, all you have to do is the following:

Accessing Your Cart

First, access your cart by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top right corner.

There, you’ll be able to find all the items you’ve added to your cart, double-check them, add instructions, and specify replacements.

Viewing your cart before checking out is crucial to review your purchase. This way, you’ll ensure your shopper has made the right purchase and minimize the back-and-forth of refunds.

Specifying Replacements

In the cart, you can specify replacements for each item you’ve added. The default choice is “Best Match”, which leaves the entirety of the replacement process up to the Instacart shopper.

To add your replacement, click “Preferences” on the items you’d like to find specific replacements for.

Next, you might add instructions to your shopper or browse the store’s catalog for the closest match.

Choosing Specific Replacements

After clicking “Preferences”, you’ll be prompted to add instructions first. If you want to access the store’s catalog, scroll down to “Other Options.”

You’ll find a list of all the similar products in the store and their price. Just pick the product you’d like, and click “Approve.”

If there are no products you want, you can select “Don’t Replace This Item” from the same list.

Leaving Notes for Your Shopper

Instead of searching for replacement items in a long list, you can add instructions for your shopper including the replacements you want.

This can be any of the following:

  • Dietary preferences and restrictions
  • Specific brands and product sizes
  • Price range

It’s important to understand that Instacart shoppers will follow your replacement instructions as best as they can.

If they don’t find a replacement, you’ll get a refund.

Things to Keep in Mind

While Instacart replacements typically go smoothly, you should keep a couple of things in mind to make the process easier for both you and the Instacart shopper.

This includes the following:

Dietary Restrictions

If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, it’s crucial to specify in the item instructions.

This way, your shopper can pick the most appropriate product. You must also double-check the ingredients after receiving your replacement.


While most shoppers will contact you in the event of a replacement, others might use their best judgment.

More often than not, you’ll get an identical product, only the brand is different.

Product Size

Sometimes, the product you’ve requested might not be available in the same size.

This can be tricky for Instacart shoppers, especially if the item is only available in a larger size. So, adding a size replacement can make things much simpler.

Price Range

Whether you’re on a budget or simply keeping track of your finances, getting a significantly pricier item can be annoying.

For this reason, you can also add a price range for your Instacart shopper.

Keep in mind that getting an alternative product with the exact price tag is almost impossible. So, it’s best to add a price limit.

Contacting the Shopper

If you’re specific about your shopping list, you may also ask the shopper to contact you with the available options.

Your shopper can snap pictures of the alternatives, call, or text you, so you can approve or decline the replacements.


It’s crucial that the Instacart shopper can reach you throughout the delivery period.

This way, you can specify a replacement or cancel the order altogether. Your delivery driver might also need delivery instructions to reach your location.

When to Use Replacements (And Alternatives)

Instacart replacements are a great feature. While shoppers will find similar products, selecting the replacement ensures an optimal experience.

Still, adding a replacement for each item in your cart can be exhausting. Here are some scenarios where specifying a replacement will be helpful:


If you’re particular about your shopping, Instacart replacements will be incredibly useful. After all, most alternative products aren’t identical.

Specific Ingredients

In many cases, you simply can’t replace an ingredient for another, especially when baking. Some products might also have additives that’ll completely throw off your cooking.

Well, carefully looking over the ingredients of replacements and choosing the most appropriate item will bypass this issue.

Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

If you have an allergy, you definitely don’t want to risk getting the wrong replacement. You might select a replacement yourself or inform the shopper of your dietary restrictions.

If you don’t want the hassle of scrolling through a long list of replacements, you can inform the shopper to contact you and discuss the available options.

Your shopper will then contact you while shopping, informing you of the available replacement items. You must be available and confirm your approval.

Keep in mind that if you approve an item, it won’t be eligible for a “Poor Replacement” refund.

Alternatively, if the product isn’t important, you might go for the “No Replacement” option.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you say no replacements in Instacart?

The default replacement option in Instacart is the best-match feature, which allows the shopper to select the most appropriate replacement.

If you don’t want a replacement for a specific product, click the product > Preferences > Other Options > Don’t Replace This Item.

You can also add “No Replacements” to the instructions of the order. In this case, you’ll get a refund for all products which are out of stock.

What does Poor Replacement mean on Instacart?

Poor Replacement in Instacart signifies that you’re not satisfied with the shopper’s choice in selecting a replacement item.

If your order qualifies for Poor Replacement, you’ll get a refund. That’s why most shoppers ask for your approval before making a purchase. In turn, you must be reachable.

Final Thoughts

Instacart replacements are one of the app’s best features. Not only does it make for a convenient shopping experience, but it also improves customer satisfaction, as it ensures customers get all their needs.

Shoppers typically choose best-match items. That said, it’s best to be available, as your delivery driver might contact you to approve the replacements.

You might also pick the replacements before checking-out, making for a seamless experience for both you and the shopper.

To make the most out of the replacement feature, it’s crucial to double-check your cart for low-stock products.

Then, add replacement instructions for these items. Ideally, you can ask the shopper to contact you with any questions!

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