How Does Instacart Work: InstaCart Review from a Real Shopper

In the wide array of side hustles, many revolve around doing tasks and chores for others, including grocery shopping. One of the more popular apps for making money with online grocery delivery service is Instacart. But how does Instacart work from a shoppers perspective? It’s hard to know what you are getting yourself into before trying a side hustle for yourself. Some are difficult to make money, some have few jobs and a lot of people looking to take them, some just aren’t worth the time and effort.

Instacart doesn’t seem to be one of those apps. In fact, it seems that you can make a significant amount of money in your spare time using it. Below is a review from an actual Instacart shopper. Here, she lays out how Instacart works from a shoppers perspective and how it can be quite profitable.

How long have you been doing Instacart?

I started working for Instacart in November 2020.

How much have you made?

Since starting in November, I have made about $5,300.  For each job that you complete, you receive a payment from Instacart (determined by the number of items in the order and how far delivery is from the local grocery store), as well as a tip from the customer (not all customers tip, but most do).

Was it easy to sign up\get approved? How long did it take?

I don’t remember the exact details, but I know that it was very easy to get approved.  It was all done through the Instacart app.  It was probably around 2-3 weeks between signing up and receiving my debit card in the mail.

How many orders do you do a week?

The number of orders I complete varies from week to week.  One of the best things about being an Instacart shopper is that you don’t have to commit to a certain amount of hours/jobs per week, which is great as a stay-at-home mother of three young kids.  During my highest earning weeks (between $250-$300), I probably completed around 10 or so jobs.

What is an average shopping list like\how much do you make from it?

I wouldn’t really say that there is an “average” order–every order varies in terms of how many items need to be purchased, how far they need to be delivered, and how much you get paid.  If I have enough time, I tend to choose jobs that pay at least $20 and will take me about an hour to complete.  If I only have a short amount of time, then I would choose a job with only a few items to purchase and a short delivery distance.

How long does an average order take?

It usually takes me between an hour and an hour and a half to complete an order.  However, there are lower-paying jobs that would take less time.

What happens if the supermarkets don’t have the right grocery items?

If the supermarket doesn’t have the right items on the grocery list, the app shows you other options that the customer selected.  If the customer didn’t select any replacement items, Instacart makes suggestions, or you can choose something on your own.  There is also a chat feature built into the app, so you can message the customer directly and let them know if there are any issues.

Is it difficult to get orders? ie. Can you do it when it’s convenient for you or is it more like an order comes in and you need to fight for it?

For the most part, it’s pretty easy to get orders.  You just log on whenever you are ready to work, and you can see what jobs are available.  If there is a job that’s high paying and/or is an easy order, you have to accept it quickly, otherwise, it’s likely that someone else might get it before you.

Is it easy or even possible to do multiple orders at the same time?

It’s actually pretty common to do multiple orders at once.  Instacart will frequently group two or sometimes three orders together into one job.  In this case, when you are buying groceries, the orders are labeled (Customer A, Customer B, Customer C).  Each individual item is labeled as well, so you know who gets what.  

What are holidays like? Can you make even more?

There is nothing different about working on holidays when it comes to accepting jobs on the app.  The only differences I’ve noticed are that customers tend to tip a little more, and the Instacart hours sometimes end earlier.

How does Instacart work from your end?

When you’re ready to work, you log in to the app and you are able to see what jobs are available.  Before accepting a job, you’re able to see which local store you would shop at, how many items are in the order, whether or not it’s considered a “heavy order” (which you receive a pay bump for), how much money you would make (broken down into Instacart payment and tip), and how far delivery is from the store.  Once you begin shopping, you see exactly what the customer ordered on the app.  Each item you purchase must be scanned with your phone to ensure that you are buying the correct item (it tells you if you picked the wrong thing).  While shopping, you are able to send and receive messages from the customer if either of you have questions or if any issues arise.  When checking out, you use the debit card provided by Instacart (you are not expected to lay out any of your own money).  The customer is able to provide any specific delivery instructions that they might have  (deliver to back door, don’t ring doorbell, etc.).  You receive your earnings weekly through direct deposit.

Best experience?

I can’t really pinpoint one single experience, but sometimes you get an easy job (not many items in the order, short delivery distance) with a high tip.  I once shopped and received a $40 tip for a job that only took me about an hour to complete.  Sometimes people will tip you on the app and then give you an additional cash tip upon delivery.

Worst experience?

Sometimes you go shopping for a customer who is very particular about what they want, and it ends up taking way longer than anticipated.  I once had a customer who requested that I message her every time an item needed to be replaced, and the store happened to be very low stocked, so the job took a very long time, and was not worth how much I made.

Would You Recommend Instacart to others? Why or Why not?

I would definitely recommend working for Instacart to others who are looking to make some extra money.  I love the flexibility of it, and the fact that I can bring my kids with me and I don’t need to find childcare when working is great.  The app is very user friendly, and the Instacart team is very responsive if you need to contact them for any reason.

Do you get rated and can you rate the person that placed the order?

Customers can choose to rate their shoppers if they would like.  They provide feedback (thumbs up or thumbs down) on communication, replacing items, quality of items, and finding items.  They can also write a short review if they choose.  As a shopper, we are not able to rate the customers, but we are able to report any issues to Instacart if necessary.

Leave a Comment