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Are Instacart Shoppers Also the Drivers?

Instacart has two types of employees and so sometimes it’s hard to know if the person handing you your groceries is also the person who shopped for them. So are Instacart Shoppers also the drivers?

In the majority of cases, Instacart Shoppers are also the drivers. They are called Full-Service Shoppers because they shop and deliver. However, Instacart employs some in-store Shoppers who do not deliver and simply shop for the items ordered, primarily for pick-up orders.

So in most cases, the Shopper is also the driver.

In this scenario, they’ve handled all aspects of fulfilling your order, and they deserve the tips. But in times when there are a lot of delivery orders and not a lot of pickup orders, the in-store Shopper might shop for an order that someone else delivers.

In this article, we’ll explore issues around the type of Instacart shoppers, tips, and if you could request a specific person to handle your orders.

Let’s get to it…

Ready to start ordering from Instacart?

CLICK HERE to go to the Instacart order page.

Concept of shopping delivery isolated on white background

Do Instacart drivers have to shop?

As a general rule, Instacart drivers also shop for the groceries prior to doing the delivery. They are called Full-Service Shoppers because they handle a customer’s order from start to finish. However, there are also dedicated In-Store shoppers who only shop and do not handle delivery.

Instacart has two types of shoppers: Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers.

The first type of shoppers, as their name suggests, provide “full service.” That’s to say that they’re the same people that’ll visit a grocery store, carefully select all that makes up your order, pack it up, pay, and then drive to your doorstep to deliver it.

So, in this case, the drivers have to shop.

These are also independent contractors and not employees. They choose when they work and how much and can decline orders in the event the tip is too low.

But in the case of In-Store shoppers, shoppers don’t have to drive.

These people are actual part-time employees of Instacart. In-store shoppers work in a grocery store. They also select, pack, and pay for the order. And as I said above, most of the time, they are focused on orders for pick-up, not delivery.

But there may be times they do the shopping for someone else’s delivery.

So, in these types of order handling, both types of shoppers are involved. If it’s an order requiring a curbside pick up, however, the In-Store shoppers handle everything.

You’ve probably wondered if these shoppers could rate you, right?

In a recent article of mine, I explained that as of the time of writing, there’s no formal way for shoppers to rate customers. However, if you pull a “Karen” and are rude to the Instacart delivery person, there is a way they can blacklist you.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do Instacart tips go to the driver or the Shopper?

Instacart tips go to the driver, who, in most cases, is also the Shopper. They are called Full-Service shoppers because they shop and deliver. They do not have a set salary and are paid per delivery. These Shopper-drivers receive the tips, while the in-Store shoppers are paid hourly. They do not receive tips.

You might think that you’d rather tip the shopper and not the delivery person. I get it.

But consider that In-store shoppers are paid per hour and spend their shift in a grocery store selecting, packing, and paying for orders.

And for this, they receive a guaranteed earning (per hour worked).

In most cases, however, there’s just the Full-Service shopper who does what the In-Store shopper does and, in addition to that, goes on to deliver the order.

And yet, they do not have guaranteed income.

They are paid per delivery. It’s only fair that they get to keep the tips. Tips constitute about 50% of their earnings. Tips go to the delivery person and can even be in cash.

Ready to start ordering from Instacart?

CLICK HERE to go to the Instacart order page.

How much should I tip my Instacart delivery driver?

Instacart recommends a minimum tip of at least 5% of the value of the order or at least $2.00 for small orders. For a $100 grocery order, the minimum tip would be $5.00. However, in most cases, a tip of 10-20% is more appropriate for the service performed.

And a much larger tip will be appropriate anytime the Shopper performs any extra service.

Service industry tips are usually about 15% and above. This is a better figure to aim for. Of course, it is largely a function of the quality of service rendered by the delivery driver.

Truth be told, Instacart shoppers are not exactly making out like bandits.

Their average annual income is just about $28,000. Not money one would sneeze at, but it’s not exactly a fortune if you ask me.

The delivery drivers are not guaranteed orders each day which implies that they do not have guaranteed income.

They select orders to fulfill from a pool that’s also available to many other shoppers. This is why the tips we pay them are very important, and as I said before, it makes up about 50% of their earnings.

I suggest you tip them something in the region of 15% to 20%. It’s not just because that’s how we roll as Americans.

But, tips are a token of appreciation of the service the shoppers provide. It’s an incentive that’d make it sustainable.

I devoted a recent article of mine to explore whether we should tip Instacart shoppers, how much, and when to tip beyond the recommended minimums.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can a customer request a specific Instacart Shopper or driver?

A customer cannot request a specific Instacart Shopper or driver. The assignment of orders is done through Instacart’s algorithm that selects Shoppers based on proximity, availability, and prioritizes top-rated Shoppers above lower-rated ones.

But Instacart Shoppers can say yes or no if they see your order come through to them.

And, of course, while it’s not a guarantee of anything, make sure to give top ratings to the Shoppers who deliver on-time, well-packed groceries.

The better their ratings the more orders they get, and that next one could be yours!

It’s conceivable that in time, Instacart could tweak its algorithm to allow customers to choose shoppers or drivers they prefer.

But as of the time of writing, there’s no such feature in its app and no announcement that it’s a feature we should expect.

And the AI involved in their app would have to get a whole lot more sophisticated in order to make that happen. Plus, since Shoppers have the right to decline your order, I’m not sure how they could guarantee a specific person for your order.

And it might make its platform less fair. It’d support a situation where some shoppers are being favored!

All the shoppers and drivers have been trained and are expected to be able to render excellent service. So, there is no need to specifically request some of them.

You’ve probably wondered if a shopper could help bring your groceries inside the house.

That’s the subject of a recent article of mine where I explained that that is not a part of the terms of their contract. They’re expected to deliver your order to your doorstep. But there are a few circumstances where the Shopper can decide to come inside.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do some stores use an employee to shop for Instacart orders?

Some grocery stores do use their employees to shop for Instacart orders, but most stores still use Instacart’s Shoppers to shop for orders, so they don’t have to pay their own employees to do it.

The former stores still use Instacart’s technology through which their customers can place orders, but their employees, rather than Instacart’s, do the shopping.

Instacart’s In-store shoppers are part-time employees, and they shop for orders, and in cases where customers prefer curbside pick-ups, they handle it.

But since last year, some stores that Instacart has a partnership with have decided they’d rather have their employees handle the shopping and curbside pick-up part.

And then simply use Instacart’s Full-Service shoppers to handle the delivery.

Aldi and Sprouts are two of the stores where this change has been implemented. Unfortunately, this led to some Instacart In-store shoppers losing their jobs.

At a point, many were complaining about Instacart being slow. I explained the reason in a recent article of mine. But there’s 1 thing all customers can do to speed up the process and pretty much eliminate delays.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


Shoppers or drivers? Or both? It can be a tad confusing.

In this article, we learned about the differences between the two types of shoppers who work for Instacart. In some cases, in fact, in most cases, the shopper is also the driver.

They are known as Full-Service shoppers because they shop and deliver. But some shoppers do not deliver. We learned that it’s ideal to tip the delivery person and got to know why.

We even learned about the “ideal” rate for our tips.

It turns out that you cannot request that a specific shopper handles your order. We also learned why that might not be a great idea.

And, we concluded by learning that some stores prefer their employees do the in-store shopping.

Ready to start ordering from Instacart?

CLICK HERE to go to the Instacart order page.

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Jeff Campbell