WILMINGTON — Do you hate waiting in line at stores? Are you too busy with kids or work to make a weekly grocery run? If you answered yes, then there’s a new service you might enjoy. Instacart, an app-based grocery delivery service, is offering your weekly shopping run, without the hassle of a trip to the store.
Sam Donoghue, senior operations manager with Instacart, said the service is essentially an “on-demand grocery delivery service,” allowing customers to get the groceries they want, from “local stores they already know and love.
“We’re connecting them with people who have free time, like shopping and want to earn money, and we’re kind of bringing them together via the app,” he said.
The company, founded in 2012 in San Francisco, is the brainchild of Apoorva Mehta. According to Donoghue, Mehta despised grocery shopping. Wanting to streamline the process, and save himself time spent at the store, he created Instacart, and it has grown ever since.
Now, the service is available in 34 states and, as of Tuesday, it has arrived in the Cape Fear.
According to the Donoghue, Instacart will offer services to over 70,000 households in the area, including Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, Kings Grant, Wrightsboro, Hightsville, Sea Breeze, Silverlake, Myrtle Grove, and Carolina Beach.
In addition, the company plans to provide over 100 jobs to people in our area.
Groceries delivered to your door
The service offers a one-stop shop for customers looking to have their grocery and home goods brought right to their door. The service charges a $5.99 delivery fee per order, or you can opt for a monthly and yearly subscription service called “Instacart Express.”
“The average family spends about an hour a week at the store,” Donoghue said. “That’s 52 hours a year, there’s certainly a lot better things you could be doing with your time.”
In Wilmington, the business has partnered with stores like Whole Foods Market, Publix, Petco, Costco, and CVS. In addition to groceries, the service will also offer alcohol delivery through Publix, with age verification taking place at the door by a specially trained shopper.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, or gone to the website, the process is simple.
“So, if you’re a customer, you sign on, and put in your zip code, then the app will show you a list of stores that we shop from in your area,” Donoghue said. “After you select the store, and you go in, and begin building your virtual list.”
Once you’ve completed your shopping list, click check out, and select your delivery window. Instacart promises delivery within the hour, but you can also select a time that’s more fitting for you, all the way into the following day.
“Once you check out, that order goes out, and we assign it to shoppers who are out there working at that time,” he said. “It’s assigned based off of logistics efficiency, so, if that shopper is closest to the store, closest to the house, they’re gonna get that order.
“The shopper gets the notification, and he or she will accept or decline the order. When they accept, you’ll get a notification, saying, ‘hey, I’m shopping your order, heading to the store now.'”
The process can be hands-on if you want it to be, allowing the customer to shop along with the shopper in real time. There’s even a chat box, so that if, for example, a piece of produce isn’t quite ripe, shoppers can ask customers their preferences, ensuring they receive the product they ordered.
“If you want to stay on and pay attention, it’s really interactive, it’s real time, it’s pretty cool, and I think that’s one of the differentiating factors that stands out about it,” Donoghue said.
If there’s an item on your list that’s unavailable, Instacart’s shoppers are trained to pick the next best item, and run it by you before purchasing. In addition, Donoghue said the shoppers are always learning, with the app fine tuning their style as they go.
“Once they come on as a shopper, the training never stops. Say they pick out an avocado for the first time, it will then give the shopper three tips for how to pick an avocado,” Donoghue said. “Then they have to work through, and answer a question on it at the end. So, shoppers are constantly learning, at least for the first handful of shops.”
After shoppers have successfully completed their trips to the store, they’ll deliver the groceries straight to the customer’s door. The app will also save your list, allowing you to reorder or modify for future deliveries.
The Instacart service
According to Donoghue, Instacart is a service, one that can be utilized by a wide variety of consumers.
“So, it’s two things, it’s for a customer who is super busy, maybe it’s a young family, heading to soccer games, baseball games, whatever it may be, and they don’t have a lot of time, so this is convenient,” he said. “Or maybe, it’s someone who just hates grocery shopping.
“On a broad spectrum, say you have someone with injuries or recent surgeries, or their elderly and need help getting around, this is like a lifesaver for them.,” he said. “In a way it’s a service in that sense, and a lot of our shoppers really appreciate that we can help them out.”
Donoghue said first-time users in the Wilmington area can get $20 off an order of $35 or more using the code “HIWILMINGTON,” between Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Thursday, Aug. 17.