Instacart Shopper Service Top Ten Tips
People who sign up to be a contract Instacart Shopper are the entrepreneurs who are either looking to supplement income or take on a full-time opportunity that is active, engaging, and physically demanding. They come from all walks of life, and you rarely get a chance to get to know them because time is money. I’ve been contracting with Instacart for several months now, and I want you to know how to use the Instacart Shopper service efficiently.
No Super Heavy Loads
While grabbing a couple of cases of water, gallons of milk and even large packages of staple paper products are the norms for the intrepid Instacart Shopper – ten cases of water or multiple bags of firewood are not! I had an order once for two cases of water, four bags of wood, a box of sausage, and two bottles of juice. When I pulled up to the residence and saw the stairs, I was silently praying I wouldn’t have to carry the hefty bags of firewood up the stairs. As I brought both cases of water and the rest of the groceries up the stairs, the home-owner, in a bathrobe and slippers taking a cigarette break eyed me suspiciously. I admit I was huffing a little in an attempt to get this over just as soon as humanly possible. On the second trek for the final two bags, I asked, “Do you mind if I leave the bags of firewood at the foot of the stairs?”. He gruffed at me and said okay. I knew I would probably not get five-star service, but I also knew after lugging the firewood to the trunk of my poor car that I would have never made it.
Instacart and Shipt shoppers both have to be able to lift at least 25 pounds and be fit enough to run around the grocery store, to and from the car and unload/reload several times a day. I’d say that generally, two cases of water is a reasonable limit to keep on your online shopping orders.
I earned $5.50 for that delivery. No tip for not taking the wood up the stairs.
Lesson learned! The next time I got a large order, I was actually in the middle of it at Costco when I realized that the one case of water was a request for ten cases. I called Instacart and had them remove the order from my queue. But I was angry at myself for blazing through so fast I failed to see (10) and had wasted precious money-making-moment.
So here’s the tip: Order groceries – not Apocolypse supplies. Also, if you are a business, you could call an order in or use TaskRabbit!
Instacart Shoppers and food delivery agents don’t want to keep your gate codes for future use secretly. Go ahead and put the gate code in the delivery instructions so that the shopper doesn’t have to call or text you. Most customers don’t even want to be called, and when you are sitting at a call box in front of the development, it always seems like that is the moment the customer won’t answer. This is one of the most frustrating things about delivery. You should put explicit instructions on how to find your apartment, room, condo, or townhome. While the Instacart Shopper is looking for you the time is ticking, and they are earning less and less. You’ll get faster service if you add codes and general location text in delivery instructions!
Delivering groceries in midtown Atlanta is an experience. It’s also not for the faint of heart. Finding ways into the hi-rises and not getting stuck in security or delivery only parking spots underneath is a feat in and of itself. Your hi-rise may not be that noticeable, and many assume the delivery person knows exactly where to go. With the constant flux of contractors, do your part and detail exactly how a shopper is supposed to 1. Find your building and 2. The easiest and quickest way to deliver your groceries. Sometimes, because of security, that means you need to have them dropped off at the concierge. Don’t forget to tip!
One of the biggest myths about grocery delivery is that the produce won’t be that great. Instacart Shoppers take special care when choosing your fresh food items. When I buy my avocados, I look for at least one that I can use in 1-2 days and the rest unripe. Not all customers want that though. Some want all ripe, no ripe, or they want the stem still intact. Avocado picking is an exact science. Help your shopper by adding those tips in the text if you aren’t getting the correct ripeness you want!
Example: After adding four avocados to your online shopping basket, you add text, “One should be ripe enough to eat, all four stems intact.”
Example: After adding a head of cabbage to your online shopping basket, you add text, “Smallest head, should be dense and heavy.”
Example: After adding bananas, “The greener, the better.”
Last Minute Items
If you use the mobile application or receive alerts when your shopper has started, you can add anything until they check out. You don’t even have to know exactly what you want. As an example: I was nearing the end of an Instcart Shopping service when the customer sent me a message, “Could you also add stove top cleaner?”. I could have easily grabbed Bar Keeper’s Friend but then came a photo she added. It was of the ceramic top of her stove, so I knew which type of cleaner to grab. A quick scan and it was added. I sent a message back, “Do you have heavy duty scrubbing pads? If not I’ll grab one of those too.”. She messaged back, “Nope! Please add one!”. A shopper who adds items benefits from additional earnings, so they will be able to do this.
Note: You cannot purchase alcohol (in Georgia), gift cards, tobacco products with grocery shopping/delivery services.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Shoppers
Did you know the Instacart Shopper can send you photos? If you are in doubt about a substitution, just ask for a photo. Often, there are several to choose from and if I don’t know anything about pickle preferences I might do just as well by sending you a photo of the lineup!
Oh No, She Deli Don’t!
Did you order a deli sub from Publix? That’s awesome. Did you remember to add what type of bread, cheese, and veggies you wanted on it? At least 20-30% of the time customers order by photo and don’t add those details. Don’t forget! Remember, the Instacart Shopper is on a time limit and has to get those groceries delivered to you by a set time. The longer they stand in the store messaging you for sub sandwich instructions, the less money they make. Usually, a shopper’s first task is reading the entire list of items you want and finding all the deli items at the end. They will either give the deli the order or use the Publix online ordering system to get it in the queue while they shop the rest of the list.
Deli orders are the time killers so make sure your requests are specific!
Stay Away From The Car
Some customers want to come to the car to help unload. They never ask, they just show up at the car. While this is super nice, it can sometimes be very off-putting because many shoppers may have two or three orders in the car. In my case, by the time I loaded them all at purchase, I had specific vehicle locations for each customer because I find that checking the order before leaving the grocery store is more effective than at delivery. When customer’s surprise me at the car, I suddenly become Forgetful Fiona and then am forced to check the entire order. That adds to the delivery time you may have saved me by assisting. I’ve already found that almost a third of customers in my region don’t tip. I won’t be upset that you also wanted to save it by unloading your groceries, but I will be shocked when an item is reported missing that happened because Forgetful Fiona let Order Customer #1 grab Order Customer #2’s ice cream.
Kitchen Delivery and the Aged
Sometimes you want your groceries dropped on the front porch. And left lonely, like little nutritional gift packages for yard gnomes. No worries, an intrepid Instacart Shopper will stop, drop, and run when possible but there are times when kitchen delivery is best. I’ve delivery groceries a few times to elderly customers or parents of customers. In fact, some customers are not even in the state, and they shop online for groceries that will be delivered to their parents or elderly relatives. Imagine ordering groceries for a temporarily disabled friend who is recouping from surgery. It’s a lovely gesture.
In those times, the Instacart Shopper can assist in delivering the groceries to the kitchen. Just let the shopper know in delivery instructions! “Please drop on the porch.” “Please knock twice.” “Baby sleeping, please send notification via text and then wait at the door.” “Insane canine but is completely friendly!” “Tallgrass in the yard; send a notification before entering the snake pit.” (I’m just kidding on that last one, but tall grass is a safety hazard, please don’t expect a delivery person to walk through it!)
However, please beware: An Instacart Shopper who delivers to a senior living home may not know that your parent is of advanced age and they may become frightened or confused if they open the door to a stranger bearing bags of groceries. You should warn your relative at the time of order and when the Instacart Shopper is about to arrive! NEVER assume that a senior living home will stop our intrepid delivery person when they appear with a cart in hand and a determined look on their face. You should also let the concierge know that your relative will be receiving groceries and if the delivery person should be escorted by resident personnel before knocking.
Make It Count
Are you only ordering the minimum just to get a box of ice cream sandwiches? Shame. Shame. Shame. You are wasting your delivery dollar and shorting the Instacart Shopper. They (used to) make a commission on each unique item, and if you order six boxes of Diana’s Chocolate Covered Bananas and four bags of chips, the Marietta region Shopper gets .80 cents and about $3.50 in delivery. The most significant order I had was $378.45, and it took me two total hours to shop and drive. That was over 50 grocery items ordered, and I received a 16% tip. Make it count and try not to binge order! [Since the publishing of this blog post, Instacart shoppers no longer get commissions per item – they only receive a whole dollar value based on the algorithm Instacart has derived. A great place for shoppers to learn how to increase this is Reddit.]
Check It First, Refund Second
When Amazon first began the Prime Now service, I was an early adopter. I found out very quickly that ordering produce was a tricky business and often I was not happy with the result. Instacart Shoppers take special care with produce. If you order a lot of fresh food you should, at the very least, give it a quick once-over before the Instacart Shopper delivers it in their app. If you aren’t happy with any of it, you can get a refund before they swipe for delivery. Once they’ve delivered the items, they can’t offer a refund, and you’ll have to go back to the Instacart website and request it. It’s much easier to take care of any issues while the shopper can take care of it at the doorstep. You can’t do this with delivery only. How do you know if the Instacart delivery person was your shopper? The bags won’t have codes printed (on each bag) with your name.
And last, but certainly not least:
It should never be a question, “Should I tip for grocery delivery?”. Yes. Tip, and in cash. If you are the “Leave the groceries on the porch” type, then the only way to tip is through the app.
Share this post with your customers and friends who are considering the use of grocery delivery services!