How to Make $100 a Day (or More) Delivering Groceries for Instacart.com

Updated on January 2, 2018
Casey White profile image

Dorothy McKenney is a former newspaper reporter turned researcher. Her husband, Mike, is a professional landscape/nature photographer.

Instacart uses local people to pick up and deliver your groceries to you, so you don't have to get out when you don't want to, or can't.
Instacart uses local people to pick up and deliver your groceries to you, so you don't have to get out when you don't want to, or can't.

You're Quitting Your Job to Deliver Groceries?

I had never heard of Instacart.com until about a week ago when my daughter told me that her husband had quit his job and they are both working as on-demand delivery people for the relatively new grocery-delivery-to-your-doorstep company. Initially, I was shocked at the news, but when it finally dawned on me that there are millions of people in the country (just like me) who would rather cut off one of their arms than go buy groceries, I began to accept it as a pretty darn good idea. The fact that global media giant Forbes lists Instacart.com in the top spot on their list of America's most promising companies, helped a lot as well.

Founded in San Francisco in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta and Max Mullen, this futuristic approach to buying groceries has been catching on in major cities across the country, and is predicted to only get larger as more people are made aware of the many benefits of using such a system. In January of 2015, the company was valued at over $2 billion, so you can see that they have grown considerably since the $275k investment that got them launched.

Note: I completed this article on Saturday, July 1. My daughter sent me a copy of her earnings for that day - she made $298.99 - and said she had been busy for the entire day.

You can even order fresh vegetables through Instacart.com.
You can even order fresh vegetables through Instacart.com.

How to Become a Shopper for Instacart.com

Anyone who is interested in making money on their own schedule should apply here to become a shopper. Applicants are reviewed by a recruitment team, then scheduled a face-to-face interview. Training is provided before you begin the job, and my assumption is that the only pre-requisites required are a dependable vehicle with insurance and a valid driver's license.

If you are curious about how the shoppers feel about their role in the system, please read the actual reviews written by them by clicking here. You will find that, although you have to stay pretty close to your phone (you only have one minute to acknowledge an order), you can spend a lot of time at home getting things done (you know...laundry, dishes, etc.) while you are waiting on orders to come in instead of twiddling your thumbs over a water cooler gossiping with someone from a neighboring cubicle. Another thing you will learn from the reviews is that Instacart.com is constantly "tweeking" their system and, of course, there are those who don't like change at all. For the most part, however, the reviews of the job are excellent and if this sounds interesting to you at all, I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

You can read more about the logistics and need for speed involved with the Instacart.com system by clicking here.


An Instacart shopper picks up the grocery items that are ordered, then delivers them directly to the customer's house.
An Instacart shopper picks up the grocery items that are ordered, then delivers them directly to the customer's house.

How Instacart.com Works

For the customer:

There is an Instacart.com app available to download on your phone (or desktop/laptop computer using a web-based interface). Within the app, you can select from several hundred thousand grocery items available at stores such as Publix, Whole Foods, Food Lion, Safeway or Costco (you don't even have to have a Costco membership card). You can select your favorite store or even order from more than one of the available stores, pay for the items online and include a tip for your shopper, which is a very nice thing to do, but not required. Customers are also able to schedule an order for a specific day and time. Now, that's convenient and I pretty much expect this system to be the wave of the future for busy professionals and stay-at-home moms with small babies!

For the shopper/delivery person:

Once you are registered and accepted as a shopper with Instacart.com, you will receive your orders on your smartphone. If you live very close to some of the stores, you can wait at home until you get an order, but sometimes shoppers are stationed near the stores so that the orders are filled quickly, usually within an hour. When the order is received, the shopper manually picks up the order and delivers the items to the customer. Shoppers are paid an hourly wage when they sign on for a "shift," plus any cash tips they might receive from customers.

Note: My daughter and son-in-law, who live in South Carolina, sign up for 10-hour shifts most days, and they are paid a guaranteed rate of $10 per hour, although that may or may not be the rate that is paid to all shoppers across the country. Instacart.com advertises that it's possible to make up to $25 per hour, so you can see how it is entirely possible to make $100 per day (or much more) as a shopper. You are also given 20-minute "break" periods during which you are not given orders (should you need a break).

Groceries are paid for at the store by the shopper using a prepaid Instacart debit card that is provided for them and accepted at all of the stores that participate, so no money is handled by the shopper and the debit card actually recognizes if an incorrect item has been selected and alerts the shopper, eliminating disappointment on the part of the customer. So, essentially, the debit card is as "smart" as your smartphone.

If the customer pays a cash tip to the shopper, that money goes directly to the shopper, plus any tips that are paid by the customer in advance are accrued during the week and paid at the end of the week, along with the hourly salary. (My daughter and son-in-law have theirs put into their checking account each week by direct deposit, but there may be other ways to be paid).

You remain an independent contractor, so there aren't any paid vacations, or benefits like insurance, but there are several bonus levels at which you can make even more money. When I have further details about those bonuses, I will be amending this article.

For the stores:

Instacart.com is tied in with many major superstores in all parts of the country, although it is not yet available in smaller areas, so check the app to see if it is available where you live. Stores are seeing a significant increase in revenue because of their affiliation with this forward-thinking company.

Instacart.com advertises that a shopper can make up to about $25 an hour delivering groceries, which includes an hourly wage plus tips and other bonuses.
Instacart.com advertises that a shopper can make up to about $25 an hour delivering groceries, which includes an hourly wage plus tips and other bonuses.

How Does Instacart Make Money?

There are actually three different ways that Instacart.com makes money, including:

  1. A delivery fee - Each order over $35 has a standard delivery fee of $3.99 for a scheduled or two-hour delivery; and $5.99 for one-hour delivery. Orders under $35 value are charged $7.99 for a scheduled or two-hour delivery; and $9.99 for one-hour delivery.
  2. A $99 yearly membership fee in Instacart Express - This membership eliminates all delivery fees for the entire year. a perfect option for someone who uses the service frequently.
  3. Prices can be marked up - Stores can choose to mark their prices up 15% or so above what they charge in the store, and that revenue goes to Instacart.com to pay its shoppers. Remember, this service is a convenience and you can expect to pay a little more for the added service of having it delivered to your door.

This Instacart.com Shopper Has a Story to Tell...

...and it Keeps Getting Better!!

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

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      • Casey White profile image
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        Mike and Dorothy McKenney 10 months ago from United States

        Thanks for stopping by. From what I hear from my daughter they are expecting this to spread worldwide pretty quickly, so keep your fingers crossed.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 10 months ago from Norfolk, England

        That sounds really novel. I wish we had something like this in England. I'd sign up to be a shopper!

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