Instacart delivers a stress-free grocery shopping experience.
One of my most hated chores is the weekly trip to the grocery store. It just always seems to interrupt the regular flow of activities for the week and you always end up buying more than you plan on. So, when grocery services like Grocery Pickup (Walmart) and now grocery delivery provided by companies like Instacart. I happen to live in a mid-sized metro area in the midwest. This typically means that we get ‘trends’ about two years later than most major cities. I’m happy to say that this past week, our area gained the services of Instacart through a regional grocery store chain — Schnucks.
Schnucks stores are known in our area for being larger than the ‘neighborhood’ market, but not a large and big box retailers like Wal-mart. Getting around in their stores are fairly easy and the layout of the aisles makes sense. The produce section, meat counter, deli, bakery, and seafood counters always have lovely fresh foods for you to enjoy and their personnel is kind and courteous. I’ve always enjoyed visiting Schnucks stores and it is not for this reason that I chose to try out the grocery delivery service from Instacart. As I mentioned above, I wanted to try out the service so that I could have the convenience of not having to interrupt my regular evening activities. So, one night this past week, I downloaded the Instacart app to check out how it all works.
The process is very simple. First, you create an account and locate the store or stores in your area that are partnered with Instacart. Once you have a store selected, you can start filling your shopping cart. You can do this either through the mobile app or through the web interface. What’s really cool is that because it’s connected to account, you can start a list on the mobile app, and then finish the checkout through the web interface, which in my opinion, is just a little easier to navigate for something like this. You can see your entire list just a little easier and check out just feels a little more secure. Once you have finished shopping, you checkout and prepay for the items using a major credit card. Finally, you schedule your delivery time. It was actually very enjoyable. We preplanned our shopping items for the week and then just found them through the app and online interface.
Things I Liked
As with any new process, you are going to find some things you like along with some you don’t. Given that grocery shopping has been done a ‘standard’ way for so many generations, I thought I would point out some of the perks of shopping using Instacart (or services like it).
- You only pay for what is on your list. I know some naysayers will think it’s a waste of money to pay a fee for shopping and delivery of groceries. To those people, I want to ask — How many items end up in your cart that weren’t on your list? I think we ended up saving about $50 with this first shopping trip because we weren’t tempted by non-essential items.
- You save time. Some might argue that if you can’t find the time to go grocery shopping, then you need to re-evaluate how you are living. When I consider this statement, I really think about how much free time I don’t have. First, I only have about 8 non-working hours a day. Most of that time include activities like getting ready for work, getting my step-daughter ready for school, driving to school/work, taking care of household chores like laundry or cleaning, pet care, dinner prep, and then some family time if I’m lucky. When you take the small percentage of time you have during the week that isn’t filled with essential activities, taking 2 hours out of that ends up being a lot of time. This Instacart option ended up saving me that 2 hours. I did spend time making my grocery list and submitting the order, but it really took a lot of stress away from me knowing that the trip to the grocery store was one less thing I needed to worry about this week.
- The shopper communicates with you. I really can’t stress this point enough. I had great communication with my shopper. They messaged me through the Instacart app when there was a question about a substitution that needed to be made based off of available stock and she texted my fiancé when she was on her way to our house. This was awesome! It gave me the peace of mind to know that if something wasn’t available or exactly what I ordered that the person doing the shopping would double check before just making other arrangements.
- You can make notes. This is actually a huge deal to me. With every item you place in your cart, you can make a note. Those notes give specifics about the items you are ordering. For example, I asked for avocados, but I like my avocados to be very firm. So, I added a note that the fruits that were selected be firm. Sure enough, when my order arrived, the avocados were not mushy at all.
- The shopper helps you with your groceries at home. While I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, my shopper helped carry the delivered groceries into my house. Some people may not want this as it invites a stranger into your home, but I loved having that extra bit of help getting the bags into the house.
- Apple Watch compatible. This was actually a HUGE help to me because anytime the shopper had to get in touch with me, I was instantly notified that there was a message waiting for me.
Where I think improvements could be made
As with most things, you can always improve on the process and the experience. With that in mind, here are a few things I’d like to see addressed.
- For the most part, we were able to find everything online that we had on our list. I’m not entirely sure how the stock is determined for the Instacart system, but there was one item in particular that our Schnucks always has in stock, but we were unable to find it when it came to our grocery order.
- Before we placed our first order, I had a few questions about the process and timing that I wanted to be answered. So, I turned to the FAQ online. When you visit the Help center online, it’s a very intuitive interface, but I wish it was just little more detailed.
- I would love to see the process spelled out better on the home page. When I had questions, I had to dig for the answers. I think the way the process works should be detailed better than just — order, schedule, delivery.
- There is no information on the website about delivery hours or what the Instacart policies are for that. I was going to be placing an order fairly late in the evening and was told by the customer service phone line that as long as the store was open, they would make deliveries. This was great news, but as soon as I went to place my order, the first window of time wasn’t until the next day. While I understand that there are only so many drivers/shoppers, I would just like to see that detailed somewhere.
This Instacart delivery service is really a godsend. It’s awesome for elderly people who can’t make frequent trips to the store and it’s also great for the parents of multiple children who are already juggling after school activities and work. Instacart is not a free service. They do have a promotion in our area where the first delivery is free (with a $10 minimum grocery order), but there is a fee for other orders. The fee is dependent on the size of your order — unless you are a member of Instacart Express, their subscription membership program — and the delivery time selected.
With Instacart Express, you can choose to pay month by month or by the year. The biggest benefit to this option is that you get free delivery on 1 hour, 2 hour & scheduled grocery deliveries over $35. Express options available to new customers in the Express Only markets will be $99/for the first year, which will renew at an annual price of $149. Customers will also have the option to try Instacart on a month to month basis at $14.99 per month. While this might seem like an extraneous expense, if you shop at least three times a month, the yearly subscription ends up being a little over $4 as a delivery fee. This is actually very reasonable when you consider that you are probably saving more than that by not having the option to grab unnecessary items.
If you are apprehensive about this at all, just give it a try. Gather a small list of items you need and place an order. You might really be surprised at how much it makes a difference.
DOWNLOAD – Instacart – iOS