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Is Instacart legit? Great question and if you’d like to know the answer, you’re in the right place.
In this review, I’m going to pull back the curtain on Instacart and let you know if it’s right for you. Because let’s face, not all opportunities are created equal.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
What Is Instacart?
Instacart is a San Francisco, CA based company, that operates as an on-demand grocery delivery service provider, which prides itself on same-day deliveries. The company was founded in 2012 and is currently valued at $8 billion.
This platform works on a simple business model. Customers place an order with details regarding their location and Instacart works to deliver or pick up the groceries within the same day.
In 2015, the Instacart was voted among America’s most promising businesses by Forbes.
The company’s mission is to improve access to quality food. The company aims to become the industry leader in online grocery and does business in the U.S. and Canada.
How Does Instacart Work?
When shopping on Instacart, you can order online from any of your favorite stores, and they will deliver the items to your doorstep.
When the company receives the order, they relay it to an in-store shopper who picks the items on your behalf and hands them to a driver who then delivers to your location.
Instacart’s revenue generation model combines fees for the delivery service and a share agreement with its retail partners. There is also a membership fee for using their service, on both the customer’s and employee’s ends.
The three main client groups for this online grocery service provider are customers, shoppers, and retail stores.
Customers are everyday consumers who place orders on Instacart. They leverage the simplicity of the platform and speed of delivery for their daily convenience.
Shoppers are the individuals that receive the customer orders and go on to purchase the items. They benefit from flexible working hours and part-time revenue.
Retail partners are those who have shopping contracts with Instacart. They benefit from strong sales and customer loyalty.
Instacart shoppers have their tasks laid out. You could be a Full-Service Shopper or an In-Store Shopper.
These two do the same thing except that they have different benefits and requirements.
As a full-service shopper, you are an independent contractor that uses Instacart to shop for and deliver customer orders. As mentioned before, it’s a flexible job. You are your own boss.
You must be 18 years or older to qualify for this job, and be living in the U.S. or Canada.
Full-Service Shopper job description
- Receive customer orders on your mobile device.
- Shop for the items at the designated Instacart retail partner stores.
- Load the items in your vehicle.
- Deliver the items to the customer’s address.
Full-Service Shoppers are not Instacart employees per se. But they still adhere to the company’s policies regarding food safety and quality of service.
On the other hand, In-Store Shoppers are part-time Instacart employees who may put in up to 29 hours weekly.
In-Store Shopper Job Description
- Receive customer orders.
- Shop and prepare orders in the retail stores.
- Collaborate with full-service shoppers, retailers, and customers.
How To Join Instacart
To get started with the company as a shopper, simply visit the Instacart website to join. It’s free for shoppers.
There are some requirements for joining Instacart. Those are as follows:
- Must be the legal age of 18 years old and older.
- You’ll need a reliable smartphone (iPhone 5/Android 4.4 or newer) with Internet connectivity.
- You have to be eligible to work in the U.S.
- Possess the physical strength to lift 50 lbs without help.
- Required to pass a background check.
- Full-service shoppers that do the actual delivery should have a car with a valid license and insurance.
The membership fee for the online grocery shopping and delivery platform for customers is $149 annually.
The signup process takes place on the company’s website. You have to leave your name, email, phone number and other details.
You will also have to answer a few questions regarding your availability and the dependability of your mobile device and Internet connection.
When signing up on the Instacart website, you can select the job you want. Once you submit all your answers the tab loads, directing you to a more detailed registration portal.
Here you will encounter questions that are similar to any job interview.
Before the end of the signup process, you will need to provide proof of your driver’s license. You will also have to provide a payment method so you can conveniently be paid when you earn.
2) Waiting Period
The waiting period after registration is up to 2 weeks. The company takes this time to conduct a background check on you as part of their safety policy.
The detailed background check enables them to deliver a safe and reliable service to customers. Once you get approved, you can schedule your working hours and get the ball rolling.
3) Countries of Operation
Instacart operates in Canada and the U.S. The platform is already present in major American and Canadian cities and is on a steady wave of expansion to other places.
If it is not yet in your area, you can sign up for updates by setting up an account on their website. This way, you will be the first to know when they launch in your area.
After the signup process, you will have a few more steps to start making money on the platform.
4) In-Person Orientation
The two-hour-long in-person meeting and training session are for those that choose the in-store job with Instacart. You will then proceed to sign an offer letter and the W-4 tax form.
5) Sign a Contract or Agreement
If you selected the full-service job on Instacart, the next step after approval is filling a contract and the W-9 tax form.
Then you’ll need to download the shopper app and select your desired working hours. You can choose as many or as few working hours as you need depending on your income goals.
6) Instacart App
On the app, you will also get to track your earnings and contact Instacart supports if or when you encounter problems.
The app is available for both the Android and Apple platforms in the App store and the Play store for use on your mobile devices.
7) Flexible Hours
Most Instacart partner stores operate between 10 am and 9 pm. You can opt to work evenings after your day job, mornings, or even full days if you have the time.
The thing is, you have to plan your working hours a week in advance and then religiously abide by that schedule. Once you select your specific hours, there is no turning back.
You won’t be able to decide to suddenly go off and come back on as you wish, so plan wisely.
Instacart Pay Breakdown
You can make money as an in-store shopper or as a full-service shopper as mentioned above.
1) Receiving Orders
Just like Uber or Lyft, you receive orders in advance, around 30 minutes before their arranged start time. You can decide whether to accept an order or pass. This decision should be based on the distance involved, the amount of the items in question and the stated compensation.
After you set your schedule and you can work the hours you choose. You only receive orders through the app on your set working hours.
2) Average Pay
In-store shoppers similarly get to decide their availability, and they get scheduled to various shifts up to a maximum of 29 hours a week. The Glassdoor job site estimates that the average pay for an in-store shopper with Instacart is $16 per hour.
3) Instacart Payday
The amount of income you earn on the platform would depend on your working hours, types of orders, and number of requests you fill. Payday can be weekly or instantly, depending on your preferences.
4) Signup/Referral Bonuses
Instacart signup bonuses are for drivers (full-service shoppers) who sign up using a referral link. Using the company’s referral codes, existing drivers can make extra money by bringing in new drivers, provided they sign up via the given referral links.
In addition to existing drivers who can enjoy monetary perks from sharing the referral codes, new drivers who are on-boarded to the platform can receive a bonus provided they complete a specified set amount of deliveries in the first month.
For example, for a bonus of $400, the new driver must complete 50 orders in 30 days. In a city where there are many orders, achieving that number is not a tall order.
The company’s main competitors include the likes of Blue Apron, Postmates and Shipt.
Regarding revenue, customer base, and number of employees, Instacart stacks up well against many of its competitors.
Is Instacart Legit?
Is this platform legit or a scam? In my opinion, Instacart is a legit business that can be reliable for shoppers.
Although working for this company probably won’t make you rich, it provides a solid side hustle option. Instacart faces the same safety concerns as other on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft.
Your safety depends on how well you are familiar with the places you are delivering to. There are also occasional customer complaints having to do with the quality of service and being overcharged.
Better Business Bureau
Instacart is not BBB accredited nor rated. The company has 678 customer complaints on the review site. On Trustpilot, Instacart has a 1.5 rating out of 5 stars, which is a bad rating.
Most of the bad reviews tend to come from customers, which isn’t very good. Customers are the lifeblood of any business.
However, you can separate yourself from others if you are sure to do right by the customer. Here’s an example a tweet about a person who adds value and does well by customers.
My Instacart shopper is out here HUSTLING FOR ME OK?? I’m tipping him handsomely!!!— Nina Parker (@MzGossipGirl) March 13, 2020
It’s not clear the number of drivers that are with the company at this point in time, but Instacart has a total of 1,200 employees at the time of this review.
Instacart’s valuation in 2018 was $7.87 billion. The company has raised an additional $1.87 billion from investors such as Comcast Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia.
Pros and Cons of Instacart
- Free to join the platform.
- Flexible work, be your own boss and schedule to your liking.
- Earn when you refer others to the platform.
- Solid earnings at $20 per hour according to the company.
- Flexible paydays, weekly or instantly.
- Instacart was voted among America’s most promising businesses by Forbes back in 2015.
- Wear and tear on your vehicle, as well as gas is your responsibility. You aren’t reimbursed.
- There isn’t guaranteed scheduling as you’ll see with other platforms.
- They don’t deliver everywhere only in major cities.
- No BBB rating and a bad TrustPilot rating.
- Thorough tedious background check and screening process to get the job.
If you currently work in a line of work similar to Instacart (grocery or transportation), this opportunity might be worth a try.
The company considers itself a leader in grocery delivery and they say they pay fairly. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this, so I’d say give it a try and see if it makes sense for you. You never know. You might earn some good extra income.
I’ll leave you with a solid video below of a shopper who documents how much she earned the very first day she started with Instacart. Enjoy!
How much money do Instacart shoppers make?
The Glassdoor job site estimates that the average pay for an in-store shopper with Instacart is $11 per hour, although Instacart claims that their shoppers earn $20 per hour on average.
Does Instacart pay well?
There is no earnings guarantee in place so on average, Instacart doesn’t pay well compared to other full time jobs, but could be a solid side hustle. With flexible worth hours, referrals bonuses and the ease of work, much like Uber or Lyft, it might be a nice way to supplement your income.
How much does it cost to use Instacart?
To use the Instacart service, you’ll need to factor in a couple of things. First, Tips are automatically added, and delivery fees (unless you sign up for membership). In addition to that, for orders over $35 you’ll pay a yearly fee of $149 for an annual membership with the platform. It is free to join, to work for Instacart as a shopper.
Is Instacart shopper legit?
Instacart is a legitimate way to make some extra income. I wouldn’t say it’s going to help you replace your day job, although it’s possible to do well if you can hustle and end up on the high end of the income curve. The company has poor ratings on sites like TrustPilot and a lot of complaints from customers on BBB, which is something to consider.