For some, going to the grocery store is a visceral experience, the chance to peruse the aisles, get inspired and absorb as many culinary delights as possible. For the rest of us, it's a wretched chore that's put off until we realize there is nothing but a moldy package of tortillas and a few onions left in our fridge.
Consider Instacart an app for the rest of us. Launching in Austin on Wednesday, Instacart matches users with a personal shopper who will receive your order, go to the store, do your shopping and deliver it all right to your front door.
Unlike traditional grocery and web-based delivery services, the San Francisco-based company doesn't have a warehouse or fleet of vehicles, relying instead on vetted shoppers who use their own vehicles and do the shopping themselves. The service is currently available in 10 other cities including Chicago and New York, but Austin marks the company's first foray into Texas.
Instacart doesn't have a warehouse or fleet of vehicles, relying instead on vetted shoppers who use their own vehicles and do the shopping themselves.
Delivery fees range according to the trip and the time allotted. For one-hour deliveries, expect to fork over $14.99. For two-hours or more, expect about a $3.99 surcharge. It should also be noted that minimum order size is $10. For Austinites ordering on Wednesday, May 14, Instacart will provide one free month of delivery. Plus if you order from Royal Blue to a downtown location, there's a pretty good chance your order will be delivered by Julius the horse, who has been brought out especially for the occasion. If you're not downtown, never fear. Instacart has a pretty wide delivery area which includes most of the city.
Currently, Instacart has a limited store selection which includes just H-E-B and Royal Blue Grocery. Noticeably absent from the list is homegrown Whole Foods, but Matt O'Connor, a "launcher" with Instacart, tells CultureMap that while they can't name partners until they become official, Whole Foods is an available option in many of their other cities. So, wink wink.
Using either the app or the website, users sign in and add items directly to their cart. Though Instacart says its personal shoppers are trained to select the best produce possible, there is also an option to make a personalized note about things like ripeness or size.
Like most convenient things, expect to pay a little bit more than if you trekked over to H-E-B yourself. But O'Connor says that customers in other cities have been willing to pay a little extra if it means getting "a general life convenience."
"[Austin] is a young, active city and young folks tend to be early adopters [of new technology]," says O'Connor. "At the same time, there is always so much going on, and if we can be another convenient way to save time, I think people are going to respond."