App-based grocery delivery service Instacart says it will expand its Instacart Pickup—a buy online, pick up in store service for grocery stores—nationwide, following a months-long test of the concept in several markets.
As it does with its delivery service, Instacart will offer the service in conjunction with grocery store operators. At the stores, Instacart workers will pick and pack groceries and then store the items in temperature-controlled staging areas in preparation for pickup by customers.
The amount of space allocated for the staging area varies by retailer, an Instacart spokesman says. He says the pickup service was tested over several months in various parts of the country such as Buffalo, New York; Tallahassee, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.
Retail partners for the test included Tops Friendly Markets, a chain of 174 supermarkets in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and Vermont; Smart & Final, a chain of more than 300 grocery and food service stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and northern Mexico; and Publix Super Markets Inc., which operates 1,208 stores in the Southeast, the spokesman says.
Instacart plans to add the Instacart Pickup service to stores nationwide over the coming months and throughout 2019, the spokesman says. That will include existing chains and new ones, he says.
Instacart pays contractors and employees to pick, pack and deliver shopping bags full of bread, bananas and more—often within a few hours of a customer’s order online. Not a retailer itself, Instacart works with grocery store operators that outsource delivery services to the firm. With the addition of Instacart Pickup, grocers can outsource buy online, pick up in store services to Instacart as well.
The Instacart Pickup option is available in the existing Instacart marketplace at Instacart.com and on the Instacart mobile apps for Android and iOs. The new functionality launched Wednesday in select markets and stores, the spokesman says.
Fueled by venture-capital dollars, Instacart has been expanding rapidly. Since early 2018, the company increased the number of grocery retailers on its platform by 50% to 300 and raised close to $1 billion from investors. In October alone, Instacart raised $600 million in new funding.
Sam’s Club, the warehouse club chain owned by Walmart Inc. (No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500), said in October it will expand Instacart to 100 more locations by the end of October, reaching a total of 350.
In September, the grocery chain Aldi said it would bring Instacart online ordering and delivery to Aldi stores nationwide by Thanksgiving. Aldi and Instacart launched a pilot program just over a year ago. That pilot tested Instacart delivery in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas and was later expanded to the greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana areas.
In August, Instacart and Kroger Co., the country’s largest traditional grocery store chain in the U.S. and No. 86 in the Top 500, expanded their relationship to include stores in 75 additional markets. That expansion, like the one with Sam’s Club, should be complete by the end of October and will boost the national footprint of Kroger’s delivery via Instacart by 50%, Kroger says. The initiative makes the service available from more than 1,600 of Kroger’s 2,800 stores.