If you want to make some money on the side, being an Instacart shopper is great.
But if you really want to make this lucrative, you need to know a few Instacart tips and tricks.
That way, you’ll know what you need to do each time you accept a batch.
Read on to learn how you can be successful when shopping for Instacart.
Table Of Contents
How Does It Work To Shop for Instacart?
When you shop for Instacart, you can accept orders whenever you want.
So if you have more free time one day or week, you can work more.
But when you’re busier, you can work less and focus on other things.
After accepting an order, you’ll go to the grocery store and shop for the items.
You can choose to be a full-service or in-store shopper.
Full-service shoppers will then deliver the items to customers’ front doors.
Either way, all you need is a phone with access to the internet.
Then, you can download the Instacart Shopper app to get started.
Once you pass a background check, you’ll be able to start working.
Instacart Full-Service vs. In-Store Shopper
Instacart offers two ways for you to make money shopping for groceries.
Knowing the two roles and how they work can help you decide which option is better for you.
Here’s what you should know.
Full-Service Shopper Overview
The full-service option is probably what you think of when you think of being an Instacart shopper.
As a full-service shopper, you’ll select orders from various grocery stores in your area.
You will drive to the store, shop for the order in question, and deliver the items to the customer.
To pay for the order, Instacart will send you a special payment cart.
You won’t have to use your debit or credit card and get a reimbursement.
To do this, you must have a car since you’ll be the shopper and delivery driver in one.
However, you get to set your work schedule and be an independent contractor.
As a result, you can write off more expenses as a contractor than a traditional employee.
In addition, you’ll earn money for each batch you complete, so you won’t earn when you aren’t actively completing an order.
In-Store Shopper Overview
Another Instacart worker option is to be just a shopper.
You’ll work as an employee for Instacart, so you have to schedule your shifts ahead of time.
Unfortunately, you can only work up to 29 hours per week, so it’s not the best full-time gig.
However, you don’t need a car to do this, and you only have to work at one grocery store.
You’ll earn an hourly wage for all of the hours you work, even if you have some slow periods.
That can be nice if you want a more consistent income than an Instacart driver.
If you don’t like driving or can’t drive, being an in-store shopper is great.
You can still earn money while shopping for groceries and have fun in the process.
Instacart Tips and Tricks
Once you sign up for Instacart, you may want to complete your first batch right away.
Now, you’ll have to wait for the company to conduct a background check.
Assuming you pass that, you should follow a few tips.
That way, you can make the most of your time to help earn more money.
Choose Batches Carefully
One of the most important things to do is be picky about the batches you accept.
Taking batches can affect your hourly rate in a positive or negative way.
You should look at the number of items in the order since this can affect how long shopping will take.
Also, consider how far you are from the store and how far the store is from the delivery address.
It also helps to think about the traffic and time of day.
Even a small order can take a while if the grocery store has long checkout lines and if the traffic is heavy on the road.
Look for Peak Pay
Another thing to note is that Instacart may offer peak pay when they need shoppers.
That means you can earn some extra money compared to the usual rate.
Before you accept a batch, Instacart will show you the earnings estimate.
The estimate includes any peak pay (or Peak Boost).
You can also look at the number of items and the distance to determine if the peak pay makes the order a good option.
When you have peak pay, you might be able to take orders you otherwise wouldn’t.
Then, you can still make the amount of money you want to make.
Keep Your Receipts
After you complete an order, it can be tempting to throw away the receipt.
However, you should keep each receipt for at least a week for a few reasons.
First, you want proof of the order if the customer claims they didn’t receive something.
If you have the receipt, you can show that you did buy the item in question.
Also, you should keep any receipts you get for your own expenses.
Since you’re a contractor, be sure to keep receipts for things like gas, car maintenance, and other things you buy that you need to buy for Instacart.
If you have those receipts, you can write off your expenses on your taxes.
Then, you can lower your taxable income.
Use Receipt Reward Apps
Another reason to keep your receipts is to use them with rewards apps.
Some apps will give you cash back on your purchases.
However, you don’t have to just use receipts for your own grocery shopping.
You can keep the receipts for Instacart orders and add them to a rewards app.
Depending on the app, you can get cash in the form of a gift card or a PayPal deposit.
Every app works a bit differently, so try a few, such as Ibotta and Fetch Rewards.
Then, you’ll be able to decide which you like the best.
You can continue to use the apps every time you complete an Instacart batch.
Communicate With the Customer
One of the best things you can do as an Instacart shopper is to communicate with your customers.
You can send the customer a message through the Instacart app when you start the order to let them know you’re working on it.
It also makes sense to send a text if you experience any delays.
For example, maybe there’s a long line at the checkout.
Or perhaps there’s a bit of construction, so you have to take an alternate route.
Another great time to text your customer is if you have to replace an item.
The customer may have left a note about what to do when something is out of stock.
However, you can go above and beyond to make sure you get them the items they need.
Then, you may get a better tip.
Be Fast With Replacements
Speaking of replacements, try not to spend too much time on them.
If something isn’t available, use common sense to decide what to purchase.
You should also check your Shopper app to see if the customer left any notes.
Sometimes, people will specify another brand or flavor that they want.
They might also say that they don’t want you to replace an item and to just leave it out of the order.
Instacart provides some replacement recommendations.
However, they aren’t always the best, so you should look at your options at the store.
Then, you can choose something a customer will enjoy.
Don’t Forget Your Shopper Card
Instacart will send you a Shopper card after they approve your background check.
You’ll use this card to pay for customer orders.
Of course, not having this card means you’ll have to use your own payment method.
Having your Instacart card means you don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket.
You can make checking out a breeze.
If you plan on doing Instacart delivery often, you should keep the card in your wallet.
That way, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about forgetting what you need.
Take Advantage of Incentives and Offers
You should also look for incentives and offers from Instacart.
One easy option is to refer a friend to Instacart to get $10.
Your friend will also get $10 to put toward their first order.
Another incentive goes to the top shoppers in a zone.
If you complete at least 20 batches in one week and are in the top 25 shoppers, you can get an extra $100.
Familiarize Yourself With Stores
You should spend some time learning about the grocery stores in your area.
The better you know the layout of a store, the faster you’ll be able to complete batches.
To help, you can do your first few orders at stores you already know well.
Spend some time walking through local stores.
You can decide which to learn first based on the stores you see in your Instacart Shopper app.
Go through each aisle to figure out where things are, and then you’ll know where to go when you get a batch for that store.
You should also familiarize yourself with the checkout process.
Consider if there are any self-checkout lanes or express lanes for smaller orders.
Look at the layout of the parking lot as well to see how you can get in and out of a store easily.
Ask for Help If You Can’t Find an Item
Before you know a store well, and even if you know a store, you should ask for help.
Search for a store employee if you struggle to find something in a batch.
The employees are there to help you look for what you need.
Looking on your own can significantly increase the amount of time you’ll spend shopping.
That can then decrease your hourly rate.
Taking too long might also keep you from getting a big tip from a customer.
You might feel silly asking for help, especially if you feel like you should know where something is.
However, it never hurts to ask for directions.
Improve Your Customer Rating
The better your rating, the better batches you’ll be able to access.
Instacart recently changed its rating system, so shoppers with a 4.7 average rating or higher get early access to batches.
To help improve your rating, do as much as you can for customers.
You can use a few Instacart tips, such as communicating with people.
Let the customer know when you can’t find what they ordered or if there will be a delay.
Fortunately, the new rating system offers rating forgiveness.
It ignores lower ratings from customers who haven’t rated five stars for their last few orders.
Also, Instacart will drop lower ratings due to low inventory, bad weather, or suspected customer fraud.
A more specific way to help improve your customer rating and hourly pay is to be as fast as you can.
Don’t spend too much time shopping, and look for what you think will be the quickest checkout line.
You can also look for the quickest route to the customer’s address.
Use Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze to get an idea of the route to take.
Another way to be quick is to only take orders where the customer lives close to the store so that you don’t have to drive as far.
Of course, don’t speed or do anything that may cause a police officer to pull you over.
However, the more efficiently you can drive, the sooner you’ll complete a batch.
And the faster you complete batches, the more money you can make.
The best Instacart tips and tricks can help you increase your earnings as a shopper.
Be sure to compare full-service and in-store work to decide which is better for you.
Then, look for good batches, keep your receipts, and communicate with your customers.
Doing all of that may help you earn more per hour, and you can get a large tip after a batch.
Soon enough, you might earn more as a delivery driver than in your other jobs.