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How Instacart Replacements Work For Customers In 2023

Are you concerned about how to handle Instacart replacements? Learn how to communicate with your shopper when your item isn’t available.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that many customers rely on.

However, what happens when an item you ordered isn’t available at the store?

  • Do you get a refund?
  • Do you get your order for free?

In this article, we will discuss how replacements work when ordering through Instacart.

We will also provide instructions on how to properly communicate with your shopper about Instacart replacements so that everyone is happy.

What Happens to Your Instacart Order If an Item Is Out of Stock?

You should know that sometimes items you put into your Instacart order won’t be there when your Instacart shopper gets to the store.

When this happens, a feature called “Instacart Replacements” comes into play.

Instacart Replacements

If an item is out of stock, your Instacart shopper will reach out to you through the Instacart app.

You will then have the option to choose a replacement item, or you can cancel that item from your order.

How Do Instacart Replacements Work?

The process to get a replacement item added to your order is a relatively simple process.

Your delivery person can communicate with you through their Instacart Shopper app to let you know that an item isn’t available at the store.

From there, you and your shopper can discuss how to best proceed.

Usually, the shopper will find a substitution item and ask you if the new item works well for you.

They will also let you know if there are any price differences between the original item and the replacement item.

You can either approve or decline the replacement item.

The Instacart app gives you three main ways to deal with replacements.

“Find Best Match” is the first option.

In this case, your shopper can pick out the best replacement item and add it to your order.

Your app’s settings will default to this option.

“Pick Specific Replacement” is a second way to deal with replacements.

After you get notified that one of your preferred items isn’t available at the store, you can go into the app to find a similar item.

The app automatically shows you a few suggestions that may work as replacements.

If you don’t like any items during this Instacart review, you can also start searching through the entire Instacart catalog.

Once you find the item you want to use as a replacement, click or tap on the item.

It will get added to your order so that your shopper can select it.

The third method for dealing with unavailable items is to simply not replace them.

You can do this when you can’t find a suitable replacement for the missing item.

In this case, simply click on “Don’t Replace”.

Instacart will refund you for the item that the store doesn’t have in stock.

The process works slightly differently depending on whether you’re using the Instacart website or the app.

On the website, look to the top right and find your Cart.

Click on it.

Inside the cart, look for the item you need to replace.

Click on “Preferences” for that specific item.

Inside the “Preferences” area, look for “Other options”.

Click on “Other options” to search for a replacement item that meets your needs.

Click on “Select a Replacement” after finding a new item.

If you can’t find a better item, select “Don’t replace this item” and receive a refund on the missing item.

When using the Instacart app, use these instructions.

  1. Find the cart icon and tap it.
  2. Find the item you need to replace and select “Instructions”.
  3. You’ll see an option that says, “If an item is out of stock”. Tap on it.
  4. Based on what you want to do, now select from the “Don’t Replace”, “Pick Specific Replacement”, or “Find Best Match”.

Can You Request a Specific Instacart Replacement?

Instacart does give you the option to search through their entire catalog for a replacement item.

This is the “Pick Specific Replacement” option that we talked about earlier.

You can also leave it up to your shopper to find a replacement item that meets your needs.

This is the “Find Best Match” option we discussed above.

vector graphic showing a header image for instacart replacements post

How to Leave Replacement Instructions

Instacart makes it easy to leave instructions for your Instacart worker.

You can leave replacement or delivery instructions on the checkout page, from within your cart, and even after finalizing and placing the order.

  1. Click on “Instructions” when adding notes or instructions from your cart page
  2. Tap on “Review” on the checkout page when including instructions or reviewing items
  3. On the “Order” page, you can add instructions after finalizing the order

It’s a good idea to leave a note in the “special instructions” section when you are placing your order.

In this note, you can specify how you would like your delivery driver to handle replacements.

For example, you could say something like, “If an item is out of stock, please choose a replacement of equal or lesser value.”

Or, you might tell the shopper that you want to review any potential replacements and provide the final decision.

What Happens If You Don’t Want a Replacement?

vector graphic showing an instacart refund - money going into a phone running the instacart app

In some cases, a suitable replacement isn’t available.

Maybe the grocery store is out of your favorite cereal and nothing else will do.

If this happens, you can select the “Don’t Replace” option.

When you choose this option, Instacart will refund you for the item that they couldn’t replace.

You’ll see the refund in your account within a few days.

How to Request a Refund

You don’t need to ask for a specific refund.

It all happens automatically inside the app.

Instacart makes this process simple and easy from the customer’s point of view.

However, you can always contact customer service inside the app if you run into issues.

How to Find a Replacement as an Instacart Shopper

If you’re an Instacart shopper, you know that part of the job is finding replacements for items that are out of stock.

The app will give you a few options when this happens.

You can choose to find a replacement yourself or leave it up to the customer.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Check the app to see if your customer’s account is using the “Find Best Match” option
  2. If so, look on the shelf for a suitable replacement and add it to the store’s basket
  3. If the customer’s account uses the “Choose Replacement” option, then notify the customer that one of their items isn’t available
  4. Wait for the customer to respond with their preferred replacement
  5. If the customer chooses the “Don’t Replace” option, continue shopping for the rest of the batch

Even though the “Find Best Match” option technically gives you the right to choose a replacement and move on, you should still notify the customer about the issue.

Many Instacart customers don’t know about the default “Find Best Match” option.

They will still expect you to notify them about missing items.

If you always default to notifying each customer, it will help you make the most money, avoid complaints, or see a decline in your shopper rating on the Instacart app.

Also, pay attention to any instructions from the customer.

Some customers may specifically tell you that you don’t need to notify them about replacement items.

If they give you instructions to find replacement items on your own, then go ahead and do so.

Wrapping Up

Instacart replacements are a necessary part of the grocery delivery process.

By following the steps above, you can ensure that your Instacart grocery shopping experience is as smooth and seamless as possible.

Take time now to become familiar with all the options inside your Instacart app.

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