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How Instacart Shop Only Orders Work [& Are They Worth It?]

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Key Takeaways

  • Shop-Only orders mean that customers pick up groceries themselves; no delivery involved.
  • Free for orders over $35, but a 5% service fee applies.
  • Shoppers can select these orders, but can’t exclusively choose them.
  • Earnings vary; no tips, depend on order volume and efficiency.

What Are Instacart Shop Only Orders?

Instacart Shop Only Orders are orders where customers choose to pick up their groceries from the store themselves, typically using curbside pickup, instead of opting for home delivery.

When placing an order, customers select the “Pickup” option while selecting the stores within the app or website.

A screenshot of an Instacart shop only order

This service is free for orders over $35, but a 5% service fee is added to the total cost. Instacart+ is a separate subscription offering unlimited free deliveries, but it’s not necessary for those who only use the Shop Only option.

Additionally, customers cannot tip for Shop Only Orders, as tips are only available for delivery drivers and full-service shoppers on Instacart.

Related: How Instacart pickup works for customers using shop-only orders

How Do You Get Shop Only Orders As a Shopper?

Shop-only orders can be claimed within the Instacart Shopper app. However, it’s important to note that the app does not allow you to exclusively select Shop Only orders.

As a shopper, you will receive both Shop Only and Full-Service orders through the app. You have the flexibility to choose which orders you want to fulfill.

If you prefer Shop Only orders, you can select them as they appear in the app, but you cannot filter out Full-Service orders completely.

Remember, Shop Only orders involve shopping for items and placing them in a staging area for customer pickup, without the delivery component that Full-Service orders have.

How Much Money Can You Make From Instacart Shop Only Orders?

The potential earnings from Instacart Shop Only orders can vary significantly. For instance, there are reports indicating the possibility of to earning up to $46.26 over a 3-hour period solely from Shop Only shopping.

This amount, however, is subject to change based on several factors. These include the volume and size of the orders, the geographical location of the store, and the specific time during which the orders are completed.

Unlike Full-Service orders, Shop Only orders typically do not include tips. Therefore, the total earnings are influenced by the number and efficiency of the orders fulfilled.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

Some shoppers selectively accept shop-only orders based on item count and pay – a strategy used to maximize earnings and minimize effort.

Shop-only orders often offer lower pay compared to full-service orders, which usually leads to dissatisfaction among shoppers who feel the compensation doesn’t match the effort required.

These orders involve shopping and staging items for customer pickup, yet shoppers don’t receive tips for their effort. As most shoppers very well know, the actual shopping is one of the hardest part of the gig.

The lack of tips and the nature of shop-only tasks have raised concerns about unfair labor practices, which might open the door to a possible legal challenge or class action lawsuits against Instacart.

I haven’t heard much on this recently, but at one point, the Federal Trade Commission was receiving heavy pressure from politicians to investigate labor practices in gig work that they thought was unfair.

My Suggestion: Many shoppers complain about Shop-Only orders, but they can be lucrative in some cases.

The value and viability of shop-only orders can vary greatly by market, with some areas offering more lucrative opportunities than others.

I suggest trying them out for yourself to see if you like them or not. They might be worth your time, so don’t be so quick to initially write them off without trying them first.

How To Do an Instacart Shop Only Order

To complete an Instacart Shop Only Order, follow these steps:

  1. Accept a shop-only order in the app and follow the instructions.
  2. Shop and scan each item’s barcode to check off your list.
  3. Review any customer changes to the order.
  4. At checkout, inform the cashier it’s a curbside pickup order.
  5. Pay using a card or Apple Pay and keep the receipt (do not put it in the bags).
  6. Print labels for each bag at the scanner.
  7. Place bags in the designated staging area, and record the bag locations in the app.
  8. Take a photo of the bag placement for the customer to view in the app.

If you’d like to see what the process actually looks like at the store, check out this detailed walkthrough from one of our favorite Instacart Shoppers on YouTube:

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