It’s been a month since I started working with Instacart as a side hustle as we bust our butts to become totally debt free. To say it’s been the weirdest job I’ve ever had would definitely be putting it lightly! There are a lot of pros to working with Instacart as a shopper, but there are also a few downsides to it. So, for anyone considering working Instacart as a side hustle, I wanted to share what it’s like to shop for Instacart. And if you scroll to the bottom of this blog, I’ll share some tips for Instacart customers, too!
What It’s Like to Shop For Instacart
Let me start by saying: the concept of Instacart is amazing. People who are too busy to shop for groceries (or want to avoid the crowds) can subcontract this chore out to Instacart shoppers, who are paid a guaranteed small commission from Instacart to do so. Instacart shoppers also earn tips from the customers, which can vary from a percentage of the shopping total to zero. Yep, I’ve had a couple customers not tip me a damn thing and yes, it sucked.
Here is what I love about shopping for Instacart:
- I can do work whenever I want. If I want to take a day off to hang out with the family, I can. If I want to work from 6am-9am while everyone is sleeping, I can do that. I took all of last week off while I was busy dealing with some things, and it was totally fine.
- I can pick and choose which batches I want to accept. An order is called a “batch,” and I can pick and choose where I want to shop as well as how much I want to earn. I’ve learned that I truly can’t stand doing double or triple batches, even though they pay more. I’ve also decided I don’t want to take orders from certain stores anymore, because their store layout doesn’t mesh well with how my brain works.
- I can earn more during the weekends when the demand is higher. This is called “Peak Pay,” because the demand is higher for Instacart shoppers. It’s usually just a few bucks, but hey – every dollar counts!
- I can earn more if I shop out of my area. Instacart actually pays a bit more if you’re willing to drive a little bit for deliveries, because there’s a mileage bonus. This is really nice, because my tiny village in Wisconsin only has 10,000 people in it. I’m only a 20-30 minute drive away from bigger towns and cities, so sometimes I’ll go there to shop.
- It’s relatively easy and doesn’t take much time. I can usually do a full order in an hour, including driving to the store and delivering, so when it’s all said and done, I make about $20 an hour on average when I’m shopping.
After a month with Instacart, I’ve had some incredible customers and I’ve had some pretty terrible ones. Here’s what the best customers have done:
Tips for Being a Better Instacart Customer
- If someone is shopping for you, respond to their messages. If someone is shopping for you, guess what – we don’t know who you are and won’t automatically know what is acceptable as a replacement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had customers flat out not respond to messages when I’ve got questions for them. Pay attention to your phone to answer questions that your shopper has, and do it in a timely manner. I don’t want to stand there waiting 20 minutes for a response, because time is valuable. I know who the bad communicators are now, and I won’t accept their batches anymore.
- Tipping is where we make half of our income. I’ve had some incredibly generous tippers, some even tipping as much as 50% of the order. However, I’ve also had a few people who changed their tip down to $0 after delivery. They did this, even though the order was perfect to their specifications and timely. It’s a way of cheating the system and as an Instacart shopper, it really sucks when people do that. When shoppers are choosing the batches they want to accept, we can see what the customer plans to tip ahead of time. We also can see when customers change it after the order has been completed. I know who the bad tippers are now, and I won’t accept their batches anymore.
- If you’re willing to accept substitutions, put that in the app! Sometimes if a certain brand or size is out of stock, let us know if you’re willing to accept something different. For example, if the store is out of one brand of Vanilla ice cream, is a different brand okay? Or if the store is out of the 16 ounce sour cream, can we substitute with two of the 8 ounce containers? This goes back to my first tip about communication. If you don’t put it in the app, pay attention to your phone to answer questions!
- Always leave reviews. Always rate your shopper, because it affects how many batches we are offered. If someone continuously gets 4 and 5 star reviews, they have more access to batches. If a shopper continuously gets 3 star and below reviews, they are removed from the program as a shopper. By leaving reviews, you’re doing yourself a favor by keeping really good shoppers available and getting rid of bad shoppers.