An on-demand business is trying out an alternative to delivery service.

Grocery delivery specialist Instacart testing ‘take-away’ service

From the outset, Instacart – the on-demand grocery delivery firm that arranges for a paid local neighbourhood ‘personal shopper’ to do your shopping for you – has been testing out a variety of delivery models, sometimes using Uber drivers, sometimes deploying its own fleet of delivery drivers. Now the firm is trying out another formula which cuts out the delivery person altogether. Under the new approach, which has already been tried out with a number of small grocery store chains across the United States, store staff themselves package up the orders coming in from users via the Instacart website or app and users then pick up their own orders from the store.

This system allows Instacart to save on manpower, which the on-demand economy needs a-plenty, and at the same time take advantage of the expertise of the local grocers, who know their own stores inside-out. In return the supermarket gets to use the Instacart software, which takes care of payment, suggests alternative products if the required item is out of stock, takes great care over the User Experience and offers assistance if a problem arises. The concept is based on the observation that home delivery is not always a must as far as the customer is concerned, especially if the store is nearby, the main attraction of using Instacart being first and foremost to avoid having to search for items on the shelves and then queue at the checkout. On paper, everybody should win: it just remains to be seen whether the new model actually delivers the goods in practice.


By Guillaume Renouard