Instacart is a grocery delivery service that operates in markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. Part of the growing gig economy, this service provides opportunities for those who want to work as independent contractors or earn a bit of extra money on the side.
If you want to become an Instacart shopper or explore a variety of opportunities to earn extra income, here are some of the most important things to know.
How Does Instacart Work?
The Instacart process starts when a customer places a grocery order through the Instacart app. The company partners with a variety of stores throughout the country, including major chains like Publix, Sam’s Club, Aldi, Kroger, and CVS. Once a customer’s order is forwarded to an Instacart shopper, it’s their responsibility to go through the store and pick out items.
There are two different types of Instacart service. Some customers prefer to have their grocery order delivered directly to their home, while others prefer to pick it up at the store. Customers pay through the app, and shoppers are paid based on the volume and complication of the order. Customers can also leave tips.
Become an Instacart Shopper
If this process is of interest to you, here are some steps to keep in mind as you work to become an Instacart shopper.
Choose the Option That Works for You
Since there are two different types of Instacart service, there are two different job structures for shoppers to consider. You can be a full-service shopper, which requires you to both shop for food and deliver orders. This is an independent contractor position that allows you to pick your own schedule, but you need to have reliable transportation.
On the other hand, you can just work as a shopper who picks out orders in the store. This is a part-time employee position that also offers some scheduling flexibility, though you don’t have as much freedom as you would with the independent contractor position. Basically, you just need to look at your schedule and transportation concerns and decide which option works best for your situation.
Make Sure You Meet the Requirements
For either Instacart position, shoppers need to be at least 18 years old and legally be allowed to work in the U.S. or Canada. To access the app, you need access to a recent smartphone – at least an iPhone 5 or Android 4.4. And you need to have the ability to lift at least 50 lbs so you can easily handle the items that people might order.
Instacart offers a simple online application process. Simply go to the shoppers’ website and fill out some basic personal information. And you’ll receive prompts from there.
Download the App
After you’ve filled out the online application, you’ll need to download the mobile shoppers’ app. This is the app that you’ll use to accept orders and manage your workload. It’s available as both an iOS and Android app.
Go Through an Instacart Background Check
Instacart shoppers need to undergo a background check before they start working, since they’ll be interacting with customers and potentially delivering items to homes. This isn’t really an active process for you. All you need to do is activate your account in the app and give the company permission to perform the Instacart background check. This process usually takes between two and seven business days. You won’t have access to the full shopper platform until that time. But you will be notified when it’s complete.
Attend an Orientation
For part-time workers who plan on just shopping in stores, you may need to attend a quick orientation at your location. This is where you’ll fill out employment paperwork, learn where everything is, and try your hand at shopping for the first time.
Start Shopping and Earning Money
Once those steps are complete, it’s time to start shopping. If you’ve ever wondered, “how does Instacart work?” here’s a quick refresh. For independent contractors, you simply use the app to accept jobs. You select the shifts that you’re willing to work between about 9 a.m. and midnight, depending on your area. Then you can receive notifications when new orders are placed in that time period, which you can either accept or reject. You go through the store and pick out the specified items, updating the app as you go. When you check out, you use a preloaded debit card to pay and then bring the order out to the customer’s vehicle or deliver it to their home.
In terms of Instacart driver pay, you receive a commission based on the amount of items in each order and how complicated the orders are. You can also earn tips. Instacart driver pay is determined using an algorithm and paid out in batches. So it’s not a set hourly or per-unit rate. The company doesn’t release specific details about Instacart driver pay. But data from Glassdoor suggests that the average worker earns about $16 per hour, including tips.
There’s also an Instacart driver bonus that you can receive when you refer a friend to work for Instacart. When you sign up, you receive a unique code. If you refer a friend, you must share that code privately so they can use it when they sign up. If they complete 40 hours of services within the first 6 months, along with other potential batch requirements, you’ll both receive the Instacart driver bonus. The actual bonus varies, but the company says it can be up to $1,000.