Who made Instacart

US startup Instacart: online grocery shopping without crowding out the supermarkets

The US startup Instacart hires private individuals to buy items ordered online by users in the supermarket and then deliver them. An approach that the local grocery retailer might like.

Even in the segment of online grocery shopping, which is still viewed with a certain degree of skepticism by many consumers, there are signs of a market development in which the large Internet trading houses such as Amazon and possibly eBay could be the winners in the long term, not the supermarkets. This was recently shown in a survey of German consumers. Local supermarket chains should therefore be all the more curious and open about what the US startup Instacart, founded in 2012, has set up: a service that enables food to be ordered over the Internet, but at the same time, unlike some purely online providers, does not bypass local food retailers too tried. Instead, Instacart, which is currently active in seven metropolitan areas in the USA, employs so-called "personal shoppers" who go shopping in the supermarket on behalf of Instacart customers and then deliver the goods immediately. For consumers, Instacart presents itself in principle like any other e-food provider: You select the desired goods via the browser version or the mobile apps, define the delivery time or the desired time window and leave your payment details. From then on, however, the order is not sent to a central warehouse, where a warehouse operator compiles the purchased products and prepares them for dispatch. Instead, an Instacart shopper receives an order via smartphone to go to the supermarket of the customer's choice in a private vehicle, do the shopping and then deliver it to the door.

Instacart shoppers are paid on a commission basis, depending on the type of order and the number of goods. You can also expect tips. The amount of hourly sales varies, but according to the company it should be up to 20 or even 30 dollars. There is of course no guarantee for this, and if a few orders are being placed via Instacart, involuntary idle times can occur for shoppers. In the run-up to an upcoming week, they indicate their availability in the members' area of ​​the service. All further instructions and schedules land on your smartphone. After successfully completing the application and training process, the San Francisco-based company provides them with a credit card that they can use to make purchases.

Anyone who has milk delivered spontaneously via Instacart or who has their weekend shopping a few days in advance pays a fee that depends on the speed of delivery. The standard flat rate is quite cheap for $ 3.99 for deliveries within two hours. With Instacart Express, the startup of founder Apoorva Mehta, an ex-Amazon employee, also offers a delivery flat rate. For $ 99 a year, all scheduled deliveries or spontaneous two-hour orders over $ 35 are free.

Instacart's prices of goods are sometimes higher than the prices in the respective store. The difference and the delivery fees represent the company's two primary sources of income. Since Instacart cooperates with various supermarket chains for its services, which provide the company with their product range data, it cannot be ruled out that the startup will also benefit from volume discounts and provider commissions.

The calculation still seems ambitious in view of the remuneration promises made to personal shoppers. At the moment, Instacart maker Metha and his team of 100, according to LinkedIn, don't have to worry too much: The startup just announced a financing round of $ 44 million. For the time being, Instacart can afford to give consumers good conditions and at the same time offer shoppers sufficiently attractive income opportunities to persuade them not to drive passengers through the area for the US chaff fire services UberPop or Lyft, for example, but for online Grocer going on a supermarket tour.

Whether it makes sense in the long term to handle the provision of goods via the existing supermarkets for internet-based grocery shopping remains to be seen. Currently, however, the approach can dispel various concerns of the stakeholders involved: The "muddy eggplant" problem, feared by customers, is largely unnecessary because Instacart shoppers are interested in meeting customer needs in the best possible way (which, by the way, also applies to e-food Services) and should be selected carefully. Local supermarkets that work with Instacart, in turn, save themselves the costly construction of their own delivery infrastructure. Provided that Amazon does not buy Instacart, they do not have to see themselves threatened by the startup for the time being.

Instacart has not yet known any concrete expansion plans. However, once the US market has been opened up, internationalization must be expected.

Addendum:It is not surprising that Instacart has already produced German imitators. With Shippies, a German startup is currently testing a similar model in Frankfurt am Main and in the Rhine-Main area. The Darmstadt-based start-up company Algel is also working on a corresponding service, which has just entered the beta phase in its hometown. We keep an eye on the development of the services.