- Instacart plans to add 300,000 personal shoppers during the next three months as demand for grocery delivery surges in North America, according to a press release sent to sister publication Grocery Dive.
- The company has seen order volume grow more than 150% in the last week alone, and the average basket size has increased 15%. The additional gig workers will more than double the size of the company's existing shopper network, Instacart said.
- Instacart will focus on adding shoppers to states with the highest demand, which include California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia and Ohio.
According to a statement from Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, the last few weeks have been the busiest in Instacart's history. Not only are consumers ordering groceries for themselves during the coronavirus outbreak, but they're also ordering for their older relatives, neighbors and friends who may be new to the platform.
The growing demand for grocery delivery amid the pandemic isn't unique to Instacart. According to a survey from Gordon Haskett, one-third of consumers said they purchased groceries for online pickup or delivery over a week-long period earlier this month, and 41% said they were buying groceries online for the first time. This has created long wait times for delivery and a backlog of orders in certain markets.
Delivery company Shipt has seen downloads of its app increase by about 124% in recent weeks, and announced plans last week to add thousands of new shoppers, with a goal of onboarding hundreds in New York City and about 3,000 in the Detroit metro area. FreshDirect and Walmart have also reported surges in demand, and meal kit companies, including Blue Apron, are seeing renewed interest and climbing stock prices as consumers return to the format.
To bring in new workers en masse, Instacart says it's opening up waitlists for shopper positions across the country. It's also ramping up outreach efforts in high-demand markets and increasing referral bonuses for existing shoppers. The company will likely tap into the same pool of candidates as grocers. This includes workers laid of from restaurants, retail, customer service and tourism sectors. Retailers are raising hourly pay and offering bonuses to show their appreciation. Although Instacart didn't say it's raising pay, it did note shopper tips are up 30% over the past month.
Instacart has introduced new protocols and incentives for its personal shoppers. The company will offer up to 14 days of pay for shoppers who are diagnosed with COVID-19. It will also provide health and safety guidelines for shoppers, as well as hand sanitizer for them to use on the job. A "Leave at My Door" delivery feature has been enabled for customers and workers to practice social distancing.
The company is also taking steps to adjust the customer shopping experience, including removing all customer ratings under five stars, making it easier to cancel batches and offering mobile checkout (including Apple Pay or Google Pay) everywhere.
Instacart also touts the flexibility of its personal shopper position as it looks to attract talent. The gig can be done alongside another full-time job or business venture. But the company has battled a slew of negative publicity from upset gig workers and unions, which could affect candidates' perceptions.