Instacart, which grew behind the notion of providing e-commerce technology and “last mile” delivery on behalf of retailers, is now expanding as an outsourced facilitator of click-and-collect shopping.
Instacart Pickup will work with existing and new retail partners to add the service to participating partner stores nationwide over the coming months and throughout 2019, the San Francisco-based company said. The service will be offered in nearly 200 stores across 25 key markets near San Francisco, Atlanta, Nashville, Boston, Charlotte, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis.
Participating retailers include Publix, Sprouts, Smart & Final, Wegmans, Aldi, Schnucks, Food Lion, Tops, Price Chopper and Cub Foods.
In an interview with WGB, Nilam Ganenthiran, chief business officer for Instacart, said Pickup would help bring incremental volume to retailers who don’t currently offer that option, and provide potentially more efficient service for those that already do, by having its personal shoppers assemble more orders and relying on the company’s proprietary technologies. The offering is also responding to higher shopper demand for that convenience.
“Pickup is something that the grocery customer wants,” he said, “and so it’s so its no surprise that it’s something we would look to as we talk to our partners and help them give their customers what they want.
The service could help to relieve stress on retailers who offer proprietary click-and-collect in addition to outsourced delivery, and it represents a way for Instacart to deepen its relationship with brick-and-mortar retailers arming themselves to compete amid the expansion of digital shopping options -- including considering options like robotics that might obviate Instacart’s existing strengths.
“We need to keep innovating,” Ganenthiran said. “Of course, grocers are going to try and keep up with any technology that will help them serve their customers better, and we want to be able to provide that. We can’t take our engineering and innovation leadership for granted.”
The company, which announced another $600 million in funding last month, said it has acquired a team of six workers behind the tech startup Mighty Signal, which built a mobile applications index that provides crucial business intelligence signals to B2B sales teams. This group, Instacart said, would work on “something new” at Instacart: “As the newest members of our growth team, they’ll build customer engagement-focused product features that delight new and existing Instacart customers across the U.S. and Canada.”
The pickup rollout follows a multi-month pilot during which the company enlisted customer feedback on the new service.
Instacart customers in participating cities and retail locations will now be able to place their order and pick up their groceries at their retailer of choice through the Instacart app or website. Pickup customers will receive an in-app notification when their groceries are ready; they then send an in-app notification to their Instacart personal shopper letting them know they’re on the way to the store. As soon as they arrive, an Instacart shopper or retailer employee will bring the groceries out to the customer’s vehicle. Instacart’s Pickup service is free for Instacart Express members.
Instacart is currently accessible in all 50 states to more than 70% of U.S. households, and more than 50% of Canadian households. It serves more than 15,000 grocery stores across 4,000 cities and boasts 70,000 shoppers.