Instacart is bulking up. The company announced today that it is responding to the surge in demand for its grocery delivery services by adding 300,000 shoppers to its platform over the next three months.
Instacart shoppers are the workers the company uses to go into stores, pick out the items customers order and deliver them. In a corporate blog post, Instacart Founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta wrote:
Today, we have more shoppers on the Instacart platform than ever before. Given the continued customer demand we expect over the coming months, we’ll be bringing on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers to support cities nationwide. As more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn while also delivering for the communities in which they live.
Instacart operates in more than 5,500 cities. In a press release announcing the news, Instacart said that in the past few weeks, it has seen order volume grow by more than 150 percent year-over-year, with average customer basket size also increasing by 15 percent. The additional 300,000 full-service shoppers will more than double the size of its shopper workforce.
That the company is seeing such a spike in demand is not surprising. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people into stocking up for what could be a long haul indoors. Many people adopting social distancing find it easier to have food delivered rather than interact with the (potentially contagious) general public at the grocery store.
I count myself among that surge in Instacart traffic even though it’s not available where I live. Instead I used it to order food for my elderly parents who are in a high-risk population and still stubborn about going to the grocery store in person.
Anyone who has tried to order groceries online recently has assuredly run into lengthy delays (I ordered from Safeway a week and half ago and it arrives tomorrow)(hopefully) and out-of-stock error messages. Instacart is among a number of companies looking to hire a lot of people immediately. Amazon wants to bring on 100,000 people for its delivery operations, Kroger is hiring 10,000 across the country, and Walmart plans to hire 150,000 new workers.
With COVID-19 decimating the restaurant industry and estimates that five to seven million service and kitchen jobs could be lost, any job could be a lifeline for those in need until this pandemic passes.
Just remember that all these Instacart, Amazon, Kroger and Walmart workers are on the front lines, putting themselves at risk going into stores and to your homes. So be kind and tip them generously.