Is working for Instacart worth it?

As a personal shopper looking for a side hustle, Instacart can add a boost to your account figures by paying you $15 to $20 per hour

Instacart is currently available in over 5000 cities spread across the United States and Canada, and is in partnership with multiple grocery stores like Kroger and Meijer, as well as Publix, Sam’s Club, and even Target.

If you’ve ever wondered, “what is it like working for Instacart?”, we’re about to answer your questions.

What is it like working for Instacart?

Working for Instacart as a personal shopper means you’re responsible for attending to and fulfilling customer orders. This covers picking up grocery items on their shopping lists, checking out the items and delivering them to customers’ addresses in time for a good review.

Instacart's Instagram page
Photo credit: @instacart on Instagram

Here’s a visual breakdown of what to expect when considering working for Instacart.

What is it like working for Instacart?: A breakdown of your job as a personal shopper

1. Attend to customer orders

Once you get the job, Instacart will require you to download and install its official app from the Google Play store or the Apple store. The Instacart app will help you manage and fulfill customer orders and requests.

The app has a section where you can organize batches. Batches are the same as orders. They are the group of items or shopping list unique to one customer. A batch of orders comprises of the following details:

  • The customer’s selected products 
  • The store you’re going to purchase the products from
  • The delivery distance from store to the customer’s location
  • The estimate of your earnings, and even your tips

Instacart customer order

You have the choice of accepting customer orders or ignoring them, which will alert the customer on the progress of their order.

You can also chat with a customer after accepting their order, which helps you gather more information on their preferences.

2. Picking up customer orders

After accepting a customer order, you’ll find a grocery list within the Instacart app interface. This list contains almost every grocery item separated into different supermarket aisles.

This will help you navigate the grocery store without getting lost. You may not see items like cigarettes on the grocery list because Instacart doesn’t deliver cigarettes. As for alcohol, Instacart supports liquor delivery for select retailers as most grocery stores don’t sell liquor.

The Instacart app also allows you to mark off items from your customer’s shopping once you successfully find them. If the items are out of stock, you can chat up your customer and discuss grocery substitutes.

Asian woman holding smartphone in front of a grocery aisle

If that doesn’t work, then you can always refund your customer for the unavailable item.

3. Checking out & customer orders 

Instacart personal shoppers will receive an Instacart payment card after employment. The prepaid debit card allows you to pay for customer orders when you want to check out the items.

The card is strictly for customer orders, so you can’t use it to pay your personal bills.

4. Delivering customer orders

In-store workers at Instacart don’t need a vehicle because their job is to help customers select and arrange their items within the store, then the customer comes to pick them up themselves.

But as a personal shopper, you’ll need one (See the next section for vehicle specifications for working at Instacart).

Man standing beside car while holding a handful of toilet paper and other grocery items

En route to the customer’s address, Instacart will show you a map of your city and the best route to get to your customer’s location. At this point, chatting up your customer to let them know you’re on your way would be the smart thing to do.

Some customers leave special drop-off instructions. E.g. Requesting you to leave their delivery at the doorstep. You can take a picture of the dropped off item as proof of a successful delivery. This will help greatly if the customer accuses you of stealing their groceries.

After doing that, you can mark off the batch order on the Instacart app to show that it has been completed. Within a 30 minutes to 1 hour timeframe, you’ll receive your pay, although it may take longer to receive your tip alert.

5. Delivery ratings

Customers can rate your overall performance on the Instacart app after you complete their order. So it’s important that you do your best in attending to their needs.

Like most apps, you can receive a maximum number of 5 stars. Customers who don’t leave you a rating can’t affect your overall ratings, so there’s no cause for panic.

Initially, your access to batches would be determined by how successful your customer ratings are. So if you had low ratings, you wouldn’t get the best picks of customer batches. That would affect how much you earn as a personal shopper.

Sometimes, you wouldn’t even get batches at all!

But with Instacart expanding access to batches, ratings are combined with customer demand and location to determine how many batches a shopper can handle.

What kind of car do you need for Instacart?

You can drive any kind of car or vehicle for Instacart, as long as that vehicle is in good condition and is always accessible to you. Also, you’ll need to be 18 years of age or older to run deliveries. 

Man driving while using GPS

Other requirements you’ll need to meet to become an Instacart driver include the following:

  • Get a valid U.S. driver’s license with auto insurance in your name.
  • Ensure your vehicle is always accessible and functioning properly.
  • If you don’t own a car, you can buy or rent one from services like Turo and Hyrecar.
  • Be eligible to work in the United States.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Own a smartphone (OS version must be an Android 5.0 or higher & iOS 9 or higher)
  • Be able to lift 50 lbs with or without assistance.

If you’re sure that you meet these requirements, then you can become a full-service shopper at Instacart. 

How much can you make working for Instacart?

Instacart’s payment model is a flexible one that is determined by the following factors:

  • The number of products in a customer batch
  • The delivery distance
  • The level of difficulty of the delivery

Going by this list, it means your pay as an Instacart personal shopper will vary. Sometimes you can get orders that will pay as high as $50, or drop to $30.

But the average Instacart grocery shopper receives an hourly pay range of $15 to $20. Here’s what the people delivering your Instacart groceries really think about the pay and nature of the job.

How long does it take to start working for instacart?

After signing up to become an Instacart personal shopper, you’ll need to wait for Instacart to clear your background check. This process may take up to 1 to 2 weeks.

Considering all the factors and conditions we aforementioned, it’s safe to say that working for Instacart is working. But personal experience varies, so you might have a different opinion.

Your first week as a personal shopper might turn out to be a bust, but with time, you’ll learn the ropes and be a pro shopper.

Hopefully, this guide has extensively answered the question, “what is it like working for instacart?”.


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