Anyone who has tried to use Instacart in recent weeks may have noticed considerable delays and wait times for grocery delivery. The startup is bearing the brunt of the sudden surge in demand for online grocery shopping as people across the country are ordered to shelter in place.
Though Instacart will bring on 300,000 new shoppers (the gig workers that actually go into the stores, pick out the items and make deliveries) over the coming months, some of that demand pressure needs to be relieved now. To help, the company today announced new “Fast and Flexible” and “Order Ahead” delivery options, meant to help consumers better navigate availability.
The Fast and Flexible option lets Instacart users have their order delivered by the first available Instacart shopper, instead of scheduling around a specific delivery window. Once chosen, users are given an estimated delivery range (like Monday – Wednesday) and are notified when a shopper picks up the order.
The Order Ahead option is pretty much what it sounds like, customer have the option to place order up to two weeks in advance. Up until now, orders could only be placed seven days in advance. Instacart’s Order Ahead is only available “in a number of high demand locations” today, and will be rolling out across North America over the next few weeks.
Of course the issue with order ahead, and all grocery delivery is the fact that what you order online may not be in stock when it’s time for delivery. A problem not specific to Instacart and one that I hope gets addressed soon.
Instacart has had to adapt quickly to meet the needs of a new reality where going to the grocery store means risking exposure to a deadly virus, and not every response from the company has been great. Instacart’s shoppers are now on the frontlines of this pandemic, braving stores and making deliveries to strangers’ houses. Fearing for their safety, Instacart shoppers went on strike last week protesting the lack of protective equipment and adequate pay during this dangerous times. Instacart responded with a number of new measures to address the situation, and it seems like the strike hasn’t dampened the public’s demand for delivery.
The new features announced today will certainly make it easier for consumers to order more groceries through Instacart, which means more exposure for Instacart shoppers. Let’s hope those same consumers are tipping their shoppers generously well as a thank you.