Over the past few years, the need for grocery delivery services has skyrocketed.
Many different options are available but they’re not all created equally.
Instacart and FreshDirect are two of the most prominent companies on the market.
Which one is the best? Below we’ll go in-depth and come out with a winner for the Instacart vs. FreshDirect debate.
Let’s start with an overview of each product.
Table Of Contents
Instacart Vs. FreshDirect: An Overview
Shopping online is quickly becoming the norm for many people.
Thanks to improvements in shipping techniques and infrastructure, it’s easier than ever to safely ship fresh food and other perishable items.
With fewer customers shopping in-store, the online grocery market has seen massive growth.
Indeed, it is expected the market will reach over 160 million customers in the next few years.
Instacart and FreshDirect are two of the leaders in this market.
Both offer groceries and products delivered quickly to your home.
While they have similar services, the two companies have unique strategies that let them deliver products to your door quickly.
Let’s learn more about these grocery delivery services.
What Is Instacart?
Instacart is an online delivery service for many of your favorite stores.
It was founded in 2012 and has made several acquisitions of other companies since launching.
With their app, you can order groceries and products from the most popular stores across the country.
Customers order through an app and a personal shopper buys the groceries.
The products are then delivered directly to your home or you can pick up the order at a local store.
What Makes Instacart Stand Out?
Instacart has partnered with many prominent retailers.
In particular, you can order products from over 40,000 stores nationwide including major chains like Kroger, ALDI, and Sam’s Club.
You can virtually purchase anything that is in a brick-and-mortar store on Instacart.
Instacart currently offers delivery to 26 states and plans on adding all 50 states soon.
Delivery is also available in parts of Canada.
This makes Instacart the preferred option for customers that live outside of the Northeast.
Special Offers for Instacart Customers
Instacart has a premium Instacart+ membership.
For $99 a year, customers get unlimited free delivery on orders over $35.
The service also features lower service fees, 5% credit back on pickup orders, and exclusive offers with Instacart partners.
If you’re unsure about the $99 fee, Instacart has a free 14-day trial for Instacart+ membership.
Using this trial will let you try the service to see if you enjoy it before buying.
Pros of Instacart
- Instacart delivers to many more cities compared to FreshDirect.
- You can order from over 40,000 partner stores, with as little as $10 needed to qualify for delivery.
- Schedule your delivery up to two weeks in advance.
- Group cart lets you and your friends shop in the same cart and have the delivery sent to one location.
Cons of Instacart
- Primetime delivery slots are filled quickly, with services not available for rural areas.
- Online prices can vary greatly from in-store prices on Instacart.
Instacart is accessible as a website or mobile app.
The mobile app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
What Is FreshDirect?
In contrast, FreshDirect opted to localize its delivery services.
Instead of partnering with stores around the country, FreshDirect focuses on delivery in New York City, the Mid-Atlantic, and surrounding areas.
FreshDirect operates a massive distribution center.
All orders are packed and delivered from this location.
That approach cuts out brick-and-mortar stores and personal shoppers and helps streamline the delivery process.
Today, FreshDirect delivers primarily to the NYC Metropolitan area.
As well, delivery is available in parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington DC.
What Makes FreshDirect Stand Out?
FreshDirect focuses on sustainable delivery.
The company operates out of a 400,000-square-foot distribution center in the Bronx.
Everything from bakeries to produce ripening rooms is located at the warehouse.
This makes FreshDirect a great option for fresh fruit, meats, and vegetables.
This local focus helps FreshDirect provide the freshest produce, meats, and dairy products.
Indeed, you’ll find a great selection of seasonal products with this service.
If you enjoy prepared meals, FreshDirect has plenty of delicious selections for you and your family.
While FreshDirect focuses on organic and locally grown foods, shoppers still have access to most national brands as well.
Special Offers for FreshDirect Customers
FreshDirect has two special programs for their customers, each giving substantial savings for customers.
Chef’s Table is a rewards program that promises members savings, faster delivery, preferred delivery access, and dedicated service specialists.
Customers need to place 12 orders or spend $500 each month to join the program.
FreshDirect DelieryPass has unlimited free delivery and reserved timeslots.
DeliveryPass also provides a $5 bonus for your delivery between Tuesday and Friday.
DeliveryPass costs $79 for a six-month pass or $129 for a one-year membership.
You can sign up for DeliveryPass for free and get a 60-day trial membership.
Pros of FreshDirect
- FreshDirect focuses on locally grown and organic products.
- You can choose specific delivery times and opt for express delivery.
- EBT is available for Bronx deliveries.
- FreshDirect features unique prepared meals and meal kits.
Cons of FreshDirect
- FreshDirect is only available in New York City and some Mid-Atlantic states, while it does not offer delivery from partner stores.
- Non-express customers may have to wait up to one day for delivery.
FreshDirect is available as a website or mobile app.
The mobile app supports both iOS and Android devices.
Instacart Vs. FreshDirect: Detailed Comparison
While both apps deliver groceries, there are several differences.
Below we’ll compare Instacart vs. FreshDirect.
Where Do Instacart and FreshDirect Operate?
Instacart offers delivery to most of the United States and Canada, while FreshDirect has an NYC and Northeast focus.
Instacart Areas of Operation
Instacart currently operates in over 5,500 cities in the US and Canada.
They also have plans to expand to all 50 states in the future.
FreshDirect Areas of Operation
FreshDirect delivers throughout the NYC metro area and parts of the mid-Atlantic.
All of the company’s deliveries come directly from their main distribution center in the Bronx.
FreshDirect is not available for most Americans.
- Instacart is available in most major cities and 26 states.
- FreshDirect focuses its efforts on the NYC area.
Instacart Vs. FreshDirect Delivery Time
Instacart and FreshDirect offer different delivery options.
Instacart Delivery Time
Instacart has two-hour and same-day delivery options.
The app lets you choose a delivery time slot for your delivery.
Moreover, you can set weekly and monthly deliveries.
The company recently added the option to allow customers to select a longer delivery window, increasing it by up to 48 hours.
You can also choose to order in advance up to two weeks ahead.
As well, Instacart maintains a 24-hour delivery service from some stores and locations.
FreshDirect Delivery Time
FreshDirect has standard and express delivery.
Standard gives you a two-hour delivery window.
In addition, you can choose between same or next-day delivery.
All products are available for standard delivery.
Express delivery ensures your items will arrive in two hours.
There is a one-hour window for the delivery as well.
Unfortunately, only a limited assortment of products are available for express delivery.
Both companies offer fast delivery options, but you’ll need to upgrade to premium services for the quickest deliveries.
- If you need items quickly, FreshDirect has the best express delivery option.
- Instacart maintains diverse delivery options, and you can order up to two weeks in advance.
What Are the Partnered Stores of Instacart and FreshDirect?
Instacart and FreshDirect provide different shopping experiences.
One gives access to all your favorite stores, while the other gives you a localized delivery experience.
Instacart Partnered Stores
Instacart has over 40,000 partner stores.
You can order from major chain stores like ALDI, Costco, CVS, Publix, and Sam’s Club.
In addition, Instacart works with local stores in most cities.
FreshDirect Partnered Stores
All FreshDirect products come directly from their warehouse.
They focus on their products that are sourced from local farms and companies.
Don’t worry if you have a favorite national brand of cereal or coffee.
You still have access to supermarket and national brands while using FreshDirect.
If you want products from a specific store, Instacart is the best option available.
- Instacart has access to a vast range of national chains and local shops.
- FreshDirect uses a central warehouse for all its products.
Instacart Vs. FreshDirect Prime Subscription Cost
Both apps charge for deliveries, but you can sign up for premium services that lower the costs.
As you’ll see below, signing up for premium service will save you money throughout the membership.
Instacart Membership Cost
If you don’t have an Instacart membership, you are charged $3.99 for same-day orders over $35.
Additional fees may vary for one-hour and club store delivery, as well as orders under $35.
Instacart may also charge a heavy fee for items over 50 pounds.
Other charges include service fees, alcohol service fees, and pickup fees.
One option to lower your expenses is to sign up for Instacart+.
This service provides free delivery for $35 or more and reduced service fees.
You can subscribe for $99 per year or $9.99 per month.
FreshDirect Membership Cost
FreshDirect charges between $5.99 and $15.99 per delivery with a minimum order of $30.
Delivery charges depend on your home delivery area.
Alternatively, you can sign up for DeliveryPass, which gives free unlimited deliveries.
You can choose between anytime or midweek passes.
The Anytime DeliveryPass makes free deliveries seven days a week.
A six-month pass costs $79, while a year-long pass is $129.
The Midweek DeliveryPass gives unlimited free deliveries between Tuesday and Thursday.
You can sign up for six months for only $39.
For shoppers on a budget, the Midweek DeliveryPass is the best combination of costs and features.
If you plan on using either app regularly, signing up for a membership will save you plenty of money over a year.
- Instacart estimates a savings of $7.99 per order if you sign up for Instacart+.
- Freshcart’s Midweek delivery pass is the most affordable membership option.
How Many Customers Do Instacart and FreshDirect Have?
Since Instacart operates in 26 states, they have a massive customer base compared to FreshDirect.
In contrast, FreshDirect concentrates its delivery services on a smaller area of the country.
Instacart has over ten million active users on its app and is available across the United States and Canada.
As of 2021, Instacart owned 45% of all online grocery sales compared to FreshDirect’s 1% share.
Instead of nationwide delivery, FreshDirect opted for a localized business model.
While this means fewer customers, they have more control over their supply chain and delivery process.
While there are no official numbers, experts estimate FreshDirect delivers approximately 100,000 grocery boxes weekly.
Since FreshDirect has a smaller delivery circle, they have far fewer customers than Instacart.
- Instacart has far more customers and a much larger delivery range than FreshDirect.
- While smaller, FreshDirect focuses its efforts on localized delivery instead of nationwide.
- Most customers will have to use Instacart since they cover a much larger portion of the country.
Instacart Vs. FreshDirect: Conclusion
As you can see, both Instacart and FreshDirect have strengths and weaknesses.
Both offer affordable delivery of quality products.
Which one is best for you depends on your specific needs.
Use Instacart If
- You want deliveries from national retail chains.
- You live anywhere outside of the NY Metropolitan area or Mid-Atlantic states.
- You want access to anytime deliveries.
Use FreshDirect If
- You are local to New York City, the Mid-Atlantic States, or the surrounding areas.
- You want a sustainable and eco-friendly delivery service.
- You want the freshest organic foods and natural products.
No matter which delivery service you choose, both offer excellent service, fresh products, and fast delivery.
Did we miss anything on our roundup?
Let us know your thoughts about Instacart or FreshDirect.