Instacart: a student’s dream, groceries to your front door

There is a new popular tool crazing the country that will allow you to never step foot in a grocery store again, unless you want to. Instacart is a grocery delivery service that allows you to shop in at least four different markets and the personal shopper delivers the food to your home in an hour or less. It is a much simpler service than Peapod or Stop & Shop because you can receive items from more than one local store within the same order.

Locations for the service are currently located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston.  However, according to the Instacart website, the stores are not affiliated with the service; an independent software company that links customers with personal shoppers. Additionally, the prices and sales of the food items listed on the site are different from the prices that you will see in the actual store.

The process starts with signing up on the website; it is recommended to log into your Facebook account to make the process go a tad faster. You then get sent to a page of many food items listed from a particular store. The list is categorized, so all the breakfast items, bakery, frozen dinners, and pasta are all together to make your shopping easier.

In Boston, the available stores that you can receive items from are Market Basket, Shaw’s, Costco, and Whole Foods. Not every item in the store will be on the list, so you can always make a request of the item on your cart so the shopper can look for it. The minimum amount that you will need to exceed to use Instacart is $10.

(Photo courtesy of Instacart)

However, if someone referred you to the website, you will automatically receive a $10 coupon and possibly free shipping. There is also the option to go to and grab a referral code from others to get the coupon as well.

The hours for Instacart depend on the local store hours, but they deliver from 9 a.m. to midnight. As soon as you finish putting your items into the cart and include your credit or debit card information, your order is sent to a personal shopper in your area.

The shoppers are screened and trained to go to the nearest store location that is closest to your home, and pick out the items from your list. Depending how long the list and the location between your home and the market, the time can be between 20 minutes to two hours.

After the shopper is finished gathering all of the items, they will call you on your preferred phone number and let you know what they have and what might have been out of stock.

If something is out of stock, before confirming your order you can choose a similar item to replace it or the shopper will refund your money back for that particular item. The shopper will also let you know when they are on their way to your home to give you the items. It is not required that you should tip the shopper, but there is always the option to do so in person or while purchasing the items through your credit or debit card.

For Boston, the shipping under $35 is $7.99, while the other areas are as little as $3.99. For orders greater than $35, Instacart have a membership service known as Instacart express, which grants you free shipping. It begins with a 14-day free trial, and then begins charging $99 a year.

I had the privilege to use Instacart recently, and it was very fast and easy. Around 8 p.m., I ordered my items from Shaw’s, including a requested item that I did not see in the item list. The shopper did contact me that he was not able to find a certain item, which I agreed to be refunded because I did not have a replacement item.

After delivering the items to me, the trained shopper informed me that college students mainly use the service; the busiest times are usually during the weekends and at night, and that they to go to the closest store within the customer’s home address to make the delivery come faster.

Although college students are currently the main customers, this is also great for senior citizens and individuals with special needs who have a difficult time going to their favorite markets. This service is great for those who do not have much time in their busy schedule to spend time grocery shopping, and that there are people who are gladly to help you out.