How to Order Groceries Online at Instacart

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The pandemic led many shoppers to discover the convenience of grocery delivery, including app-based delivery services like Instacart and Shipt. But even though sales have dropped since the height of COVID-19, Instacart's user base remains above where it was before the pandemic began. You can order groceries through Instacart from a variety of grocers by simply signing up for an account, paying a membership fee and choosing a retailer and delivery time for the groceries you select to be delivered.

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What Is Instacart?

Founded in ​2012​ as a local grocery option in San Francisco, Instacart was a grocery delivery pioneer. Long before individual grocery store chains were offering delivery and curbside pickup, Instacart began gradually expanding its markets and services. Today, Instacart faces competition, but there are still benefits to using its services.

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Instacart sources local gig workers, who use the app to shop and deliver items directly to customers' doorsteps. Shoppers add items to their cart through either the website or the app, then check out and request delivery. One of the biggest benefits of Instacart is that you can communicate with your personal shopper while your order is in progress, which can help cut down on the out-of-stock and substitution notifications you get when you go directly through the store.

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How to Order Through Instacart

If you're interested in taking your grocery shopping online with Instacart, here's how to get started.

  • Either download the Instacart app for iOS or Android or visit Instacart.com.
  • Choose your local store.
  • Toggle between Delivery or Pickup at the top of the screen.
  • Sign up for an account and verify your email address.
  • Add the items you want to your cart and check out.
  • Review your cart to make sure everything's correct.
  • Choose a delivery window for each store you want an Instacart shopper to shop.
  • Add a delivery address and payment method to finalize your order.

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Cost of Using Instacart

Shopping with Instacart is never free, and you're paying for the convenience. A minimum service fee of ​$3.99​ will be applied to your order, but this order can go up if your order total is ​$35​ or less, if you need your items delivered in one hour or less or you order from a club store like Sam's or Costco. Your delivery fee will be displayed at checkout.

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You can get free delivery if you belong to Instacart+, formerly known as Instacart Express, but factor the annual fee into your shopping budget. According to the Instacart+ FAQS, membership costs ​$99​ per year or ​$9.99​ per month. For this fee, you'll get free delivery on orders over ​$35​, a ​$5​ credit on pickup orders and lower service fees.

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You can order groceries through Instacart from a variety of grocers by simply signing up for an account, paying a membership fee and choosing a retailer and delivery time for the groceries you select to be delivered.

Other Fees and Markups

Delivery orders come with tipping expectations, and with Instacart, a ​5 percent​ tip will be automatically applied to each order. ​One hundred​ percent of your Instacart tip goes to your personal shopper. Instacart recommends tipping at least ​$2​ on each delivery.

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As with many gig-based delivery services, there are individual item markups that can apply to your Instacart online grocery orders. Each retailer sets its own prices on the platform, and sometimes those prices are higher than what you'd pay in store or even by going directly through the store's pickup and grocery delivery services. You can comparison shop by pulling up each retailer's online ordering portal and looking at it alongside Instacart's pricing.

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If you're searching for a quick, convenient way to get groceries, Instacart's delivery service may be for you. The delivery fees, upcharges and tips can add up, though, so it might be worth looking into store pickup or delivery directly from your favorite grocery stores as a more affordable alternative.

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