Everyone's too busy to shop and too exhausted at the end of the day to cook and clean. While a solution to cooking and cleaning -- a personal chef and a housekeeper -- might require a few more dollars than most of us have, there's a new service in town that's at least willing to pitch in with the shopping. Instacart, originally launched in San Francisco but now shuttling groceries in nine other cities, just introduced its service in Denver today, to save you the time and frustration of jostling grocery carts with other harried shoppers.
Instacart promises to deliver just about anything you might need from area King Soopers and Costco stores -- in under an hour (at the most expensive service level). Customers can order from multiple stores for one delivery, and with the addition of more stores planned for the next few weeks, the selections of grocery items will be almost limitless: Instacart estimates that some 350,000 items are available in their operating markets.
Instacart uses a crowdsourced labor model to provide what it calls "personal shoppers," who grab your groceries and zip your order to your door using their own transportation. This model saves the customer money by eliminating the need for fleets of vehicles, warehouses and full-time drivers, the company says.
Instacart "chose Denver as an expansion city due to its young, tech-oriented population with busy lifestyles," according to founder Apoorva Mehta. "Instacart has been extremely successful in young cities with blooming startup scenes, and Denver fits the mold entirely." The local office is even based in Galvanize, a startup hot spot.
Customers can order groceries -- a minimum $10 order -- on the Instacart website or through its mobile app. One-hour delivery will cost you $14.99, but the cheaper, two-hour service rings in at $3.99. (You can choose to have groceries delivered at a scheduled time or date as well.) An annual membership is also available for $99, which eliminates delivery fees on all orders over $35.
All this convenience comes at a cost, though. According to the company's website, Instacart sets its own grocery prices, so they may vary from the store prices you're used to. It also states that while tips are not required, personal shoppers "appreciate recognition of their hard work."
And you won't be able to satisfy that 2 a.m. Red Baron Pizza and 3.2 beer craving; Deliveries take place between 8 a.m. and midnight daily. "And unfortunately," according to Instacart city launcher Susie Sun, "we're not able to deliver alcohol at the moment due to Colorado state laws."
Sun notes that the company has been able to handle other tricky issues, however, including late deliveries and traffic snarls. "Our fulfillment engine does a great job of dispatching orders and we staff up with extra shoppers during and rush-hour periods," she says, adding that Instacart has "very few late orders in general, given personal shopper model and fulfillment technology."
So how does all this differ from the current King Soopers delivery system, HomeShop, which has a set rate of $10.95 per delivery and covers the majority of the metropolitan area? Aside from the pricing, King Soopers does not currently offer a mobile app. Plus with Instacart, you can feel like one of the cool kids by supporting an ultra-modern and responsive business model similar to Uber, the mobile-friendly taxi company that until recently was also based at Galvanize.
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Whether you're bed-ridden with the office bug, holed up catching up on back episodes of Game of Thrones, or just too busy herding toddlers to make it to the store, Instacart offers a convenient solution to our hectic lives that doesn't necessarily involve another bucket of chicken. Although you could order that on your app, too.