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Why is Instacart so Slow? (And How to Fix)

The core purpose of an online grocery delivery service is to be reliable, cheap, convenient, and time-saving. However, one of the most popular American grocery delivery services, Instacart has some of their users scratching their heads, asking, “Why is Instacart so slow?"

Being the most active and popular grocery delivery service on the scene automatically makes Instacart the most demanding company in the market. With their ongoing expansion across states and rising demands of service, sometimes Instacart simply lacks the supply of available shoppers to deliver a fast experience along with many other factors.

I understand how big of a bummer slow deliveries from crucial grocery delivery service can be for customers. However, maintaining such a big company across states can be pretty complicated and lengthy. Thus, in this article, I’ll dig into the different factors of what makes Instacart slow and what could be the possible solutions towards it.

Factors affecting the Delivery Time

From what I’ve discussed so far about how the whole process takes place, let’s talk about what are the factors that affect the delivery time of Instacart. The core reasons infused behind the slow service of Instacart will be discussed in this section exclusively.

Supply and Demand

Currently, in the United States alone, Instacart provides its service among 5000 cities. On the other hand, being an ever-growing company that keeps expanding means there are more and more customers active on the scene.

As the demand for Instacart’s service increases, let’s not forget that at times when orders reach a high peak, there is simply a shortage of available shoppers. This means, there won’t always be an Instacart employee available to pick up your groceries from your desired location and delivery within your desired time-frame.

The most important factor that accounts for the slow service lies mostly within the availability of shoppers in a given period and how much window for delivery is open for you. Sometimes the website or app will simply tell you there are no delivery times available, meaning no active participant shoppers are present to deliver and take your order.

This happens mostly during peak times when there are more demands than the number of shoppers in a given available area. This accounts for a very small percentage of slow delivery times. The company is mostly able to deliver their products on time about 90% and end up missing their appointed delivery time frame in about 10% of the time.

Instacart shoppers

This factor is relevant to you if you are a retailer. Even if at times you might be able to get yourself an available shopper who is willing to take your order and deliver it to you, don’t expect faster delivery just yet.

You see, most of the time, the shopper who is present near your store location is randomly appointed, in many instances, your appointed shopper might already be taking multiple orders along with yours. Sometimes, the closer orders in their way or the earlier orders they received will be prioritized for obvious reasons.

While other orders and deliveries are crossed off from your personal Shopper’s list. It may sometimes take more time for them to carefully fill up the demands of other customers before moving on to yours. Sometimes a missing product from a particular partnered store will require your shopper to buy that product from another store.

On the other hand, all personal shoppers are to drive to the stores and deliver the products on their own while driving their car. Depending on the shopper and their preferences and experiences in the field, they can sometimes drive slowly to be safe and protect products, or at times may feel unfamiliar to a particular city.

Though it’s easy to shift the blame towards the employees, let’s not forget the fact that individual shoppers are working humans who are prone to situations that are not within their grasp to control. Although they try their best to have your orders delivered right to you at your desired time, it’s very common for them to be a little late on their end.

Providing service and keeping in communication with about 2-3 customers is not an easy task done by these employees and thus at times end up raising some human errors which results in slower service.

Special obstacles

At times, the peak of demand in a particular city may arise unexpectedly and may leave you with fewer available shoppers than usual. During busy days, traffic can also be a deciding factor that may result in the slow delivery of your product. Something that is going to be not under the control of both Instacart.

As previously mentioned, your shoppers will do the shopping from your desired store themselves, which leaves them to face the long check-in queues on busy days. Just because you might have to avoid doing the waiting and excruciating shopping yourself doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibilities of these obstacles showing up for your shoppers.

Obstacles like these won’t prioritize Instacart employees as much as you expect. Commonly, many multi-order-taking shoppers might have to deal with a canceled order and have to return the product in time. There are possibilities of human errors as well as uncontrollable circumstances that may both contribute to a slower delivery than usual.

Why is Fast Delivery Necessary?

In different circumstances and occasions, the fast delivery of groceries can be crucial and be of utmost importance. If you’re trying to save time and effort by staying home and not doing the shopping yourself, then the purpose of online grocery delivery service is grossly defeated if the time-saving aspects are compromised.

It’s very clear about how fast service is expected from such a renowned and reliable delivery service. Let’s not forget that you will have to pay extra for delivery and service fee (including tips) for using Instacart’s delivery service. Late delivery of products will simply sometimes act like an iceberg and create a bitter experience with the company.

In the end, no one will be pointing fingers or see any downside if you decide to do urgent shopping yourself as you’re both saving money and time at the expense of convenience. The advantages and disadvantages go two-ways and unless Instacart delivery service paces their speed up then it’s safe to say that they are on the losing side of the battle.

How the Instacart Delivery and Pickup Service Works

Before we move onto explain how and why Instacart’s delivery is so slow and why users have complaints against it, let’s focus on the aspects that make Instacart the service we know it to be and how exactly their service works on a technical level.

Essentially, the mobile application or the website of Instacart pretty much acts like a virtual platform for online shopping of groceries. The products you order can’t be virtually sent to your home, thus, a human participant is required to send your desired groceries to your home.

The only takeaway is that you don’t have to do the shopping and travelling on your own, someone else is there to do it for you.

Instacart pretty much works like UBER and all the initial processes and deciding aspects are to be done by you alone.

Here’s a simple briefing of the entire process of using Instacart:

  • Download the app or use their official website
  • Enter your delivery address and précised location
  • Choose a partnered store from your desired location
  • Add specific grocery items of your choice to fill up your virtual shopping cart
  • Select your window of pick-up and delivery time
  • Tip and pay before placing your order
  • Track the progress of your order through your screen as a shopper responds
  • Be present to collect your products when the shopper arrives at the delivery point

I’ve covered the basics of how you can use their service, now let’s dive deep into how the entire process is carried out in terms of how their delivery service works.

All your shopping and orders are fulfilled by your very own personal shoppers working for Instacart. Think of them as your appointed grocery delivery person who will do the shopping of your ordered products, pick your items up from the shops, pay for them on your behalf, and then have it delivered to you in their car. All the labor aspects of shopping are done by them.

What Could Be Done to Make Instacart Faster

I have talked about how and what decides the slow service of Instacart, now let’s talk about what could be done to achieve a faster delivery service. Let’s be clear on one thing, Instacart does care about the service they provide and they have been reliable and are a growing company.

With their roster of dedicated employees, they wouldn’t want to miss out on providing top-notch service. Thus, this year alone they have hired thousands of more active shoppers to expand their area of service as well as keep up with the recent surge of their service demands.

Amidst the slow delivery complaints and their realization of declining service, Instacart very recently introduced two new service options to ensure faster and more reliable delivery.

The first one includes the “Fast & Flexible” option which prioritizes allowing a customer to have their desired order delivered by the very first available shopper in real-time to cut down the time it takes to receive an order. Previously they would have your deliveries pegged to a specific scheduled window.

The second option is known as the “Order Ahead” will allow users to order 2 weeks in advance before the due date. Previously this window of delivery was up until just one week, and now you have the option to plan your restocking before and fill up your virtual cart in advance.

One alternative option that comes with a price includes subscribing to Instacart Express. You will be promised faster deliveries and your delivery fees will be excluded per shopping with an annual fee of $99. If you’re an avid Instacart user, you might as well consider getting one.

I hope this article answers all your questions regarding why Instacart is so slow. Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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