Fancy doing grocery shopping for other people? Then you’ve probably heard of Instacart. It’s a food technology startup that has the largest grocery delivery service in the US. They hire people like you to fulfill the task after customers placed their orders online. Sounds simple, right? But the question is, can you make money with Instacart? The answer is both yes and no and here are the reasons why.
The Customer Appeal
In order to understand the nature that surrounds the job, you need to know what triggers customers to use this service in the first place. Imagine this;
- Free delivery on the first order of more than $35.
- Get the delivery in as little as 1 hour.
- Shop online from local/major stores like Whole Foods and Costco available within your area.
- One can also order from multiple stores at once.
- Filter orders through specific requirements such as gluten-free, organic or vegan diets.
- Easily redeem product coupons and deals.
- Save shopping lists and reorder items from previous purchases.
Who doesn’t like the convenience, right? Especially if one is sick, taking care of children or doesn’t have a car. So, some people actually don’t mind paying for this type of service, even if it costs a little more.
The Job Application Process
Now, here’s where you come into the picture. People who carry out these tasks are called shoppers and there are two type of positions available.
1) Full Service Shoppers (aka FSS/independent contractor) are people who receive orders through an app on their smartphones, shop for the items and then, deliver the groceries to the customer’s door. You can choose the hours that you want to commit.
2) In Store Shoppers are people who shop for items in a single store location during each shift, for a maximum of 29 hours/week. They will also receive orders through an app, hand select the items in-store and bag the groceries for pick-up before moving on to the next customer.
The requirement for these shoppers are pretty straight-forward. By law, you need to be 18 years old and above, pass a criminal background check and be eligible to work in the US. To accommodate for the work, you need to have constant access to a smartphone, a registered vehicle with proper insurance and a ‘food bag’ that meets the standard of transporting chilled products. Lastly, the ability for lifting weights between 30 to 40 pounds will be taken into account too as you’ll be manually transporting most these goods by hand.
Interested individuals can sign up through their online forms and schedule an onboarding depending on the availability of the slots. Once in, you can plan the working schedule in the Personal Shopper app and wait for orders to arrive. In terms of earnings, you are looking at about 40 cents per item, about $10 per delivery and a commission on the total bill, whenever applicable.
While customers rave about the benefits of the app, here’s what some shoppers actually gain.
1) It’s an alternative part-time job for people in the grocery industry, college students, moms or seasonal workers. The time is flexible and you can plan the working hours in advance.
2) You get to visit different stores and familiarize yourself around the cities.
3) You also get to meet different people and learn a thing or two about consumers shopping behavior – if you are into that kind of stuff.
4) You may also get some good workout running errands.
5) And if you are lucky, customers may offer some generous tips.
However, what is it really like to be the person taking the orders? Remember, there are now more parties involved in a simple grocery task. We have the customers, the retailers, the Instacart app and lastly, you. Things are about to get complicated here.
1) While it is catered for the US and Canada consumer market, the service is not available in all the cities. You can find out more about the locations through this link.
2) If you want to switch between the Full Service and In-Store positions, you need to reapply from the very beginning.
3) Want to make the most out of your shifts? Get ready to work long hours. Your service could start as early as 9AM and run till midnight, depending on the local store operation time.
4) The efficiency of your job relies heavily on two things – a car (if you are an FSS) and a smartphone that is up-to-date. If the car is broken or the phone doesn’t work properly, you can totally miss out on job orders.
5) The Instacart app is reportedly causing a lot of confusing errors, from technical glitches to having earnings mysteriously disappeared. This can cause a lot of miscommunications with the customers and dissatisfaction for the effort that you’ve invested.
6) The reviews and ratings from customers are one often sided and it doesn’t allow any opportunities for the shoppers to improve on their reputations.
7) Being specific with customers orders is great, but it can be tedious sometimes especially with people who are very nit picky about everything.
8) Instacart digital shelf may not always be the same as the ones in actual retail stores so confusion can arise when customers do not state their options or communicate properly with the shoppers. The consequences? Another possibility for getting a negative review.
9) As you’d imagine, the money is nothing to rave about. The hourly pay fluctuates within the system, the delivery rate has known to decline without any notifications and many have complained that certain driving distances are not fairly compensated for. Plus, customers don’t tip all the time because they have already pay a service fee upfront for Instacart and that is assumed by many, as tips.
10) Gas and parking fees (plus whatever wear and tear the vehicle is succumb to) are all on you, so after deducting those expenses, you could only be making $7 dollars per hour (or even less). When there are no orders, you don’t get to make any money so you could be sitting around for hours – unpaid.
11) When you do get orders, the management expects you to perform a speedy delivery regardless of the crowd in the store or road traffic situations. That means, there could be minimal (or no) breaks on your side. It’s pressurizing because the failure to meet ‘these standards’ gets reflected on the ratings that you can’t do anything about.
12) You don’t get any employment benefits so if you get into trouble, you are basically on your own.
13) You don’t get any beginner’s training either, so it is expected that you just learn along the way.
14) When you run into any trouble during work, the technical support (as in real human beings) is impossible to get hold of.
15) You don’t get to see the full details of the orders until after you’ve accepted them. So there’s no way of knowing how many units or the customer’s address to actually plan the shopping/driving time.
16) It’s a solitary job and that means, you have to constantly carry heavy stuff all by yourself or enter an unsafe neighborhood at your own risk.
I know, that’s a long list of cons, but they need to be brought to your attention if you are really serious about undertaking this job.
So, Is Instacart Worthy of Your Time?
The app is a very innovative idea from the perspective of technology and consumer experience, but I have my doubts on how the system treats workers, even if they are just part-timers.
Clearly, we are not robots and considering the cost of labor these days, people are naturally going to move onto greener opportunities that allow for better career and personal advancement. So, I do hope you think along the same line because I don’t see how you can be making money with Instacart for the long term.
Before I finish off, have you ever consider creating an income online instead? Not the scammy stuff, but the legitimate ones like eCommerce or affiliate marketing. Here’s an awesome training platform that I would like you to check out and if you are interested to know more, leave me a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to help.
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