12 Best Ways to Make the Most Money with Instacart

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
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Instacart, a prominent player in the American and Canadian grocery delivery and pick-up service industry, has emerged as a lucrative opportunity for those seeking to boost their income.

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As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the convenience and accessibility of services like Instacart have become increasingly relevant.

Whether you’re looking to make extra money on the side or turn it into a full-time gig, understanding the ins and outs of maximizing your earnings with Instacart can make a substantial difference in your financial success.

This blog post explores actionable strategies and tips to help you navigate the world of Instacart and uncover the secrets to making the most money while providing an essential service to customers.

How Instacart Operates

Instacart operates as a grocery delivery and pick-up service with a user-friendly online platform. 

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

1. Customer Orders

Instacart simplifies the grocery shopping process for customers by offering a user-friendly platform via its website and mobile app. 

Through these digital channels, customers gain access to an extensive array of products from their preferred local stores. 

They can meticulously curate their shopping lists, specifying quantities, brands, and even any unique requirements or dietary preferences. 

This level of customization ensures that customers get precisely what they need, making the experience as convenient as possible.

2. Personal Shoppers

The backbone of Instacart’s operation lies in its personal shoppers, who play a pivotal role in fulfilling customer orders. 

These personal shoppers, who operate as independent contractors, receive order assignments from the Instacart app

They are entrusted with the crucial task of physically navigating the aisles of the selected store to pick out each item on the customer’s shopping list. 

This process involves not only locating items efficiently but also ensuring the quality and freshness of perishables, thereby upholding Instacart’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

3. Shopping Process

The shopping process within Instacart is a meticulous endeavor. 

Once a personal shopper receives an order, they utilize the Instacart app to access the customer’s shopping list. 

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They then proceed to the designated store, carefully navigating the aisles and meticulously selecting the specified items. 

This step is critical for ensuring that customers receive the exact products they desire, especially when it involves hand-picking fresh produce and quality goods to meet their preferences.

4. Item Substitutions

In cases where a specific item on a customer’s shopping list is unavailable or temporarily out of stock, Instacart’s personal shoppers step in with thoughtful item substitution suggestions. 

These substitutions are generated based on the customer’s preferences and can be reviewed by the customer before the order is finalized. 

This flexibility allows customers to make informed decisions, ensuring that they are satisfied with their purchase even in situations where unforeseen issues may arise during the shopping process.

5. Checkout and Payment

Once the personal shopper has successfully gathered all the items on the customer’s list, they move to the store’s checkout counter. 

At this stage, the shopper utilizes an Instacart payment card, which is specifically linked to the customer’s order. 

This card streamlines the payment process, ensuring that shoppers do not need to use their personal funds to cover the cost of the groceries. 

It simplifies and secures the financial aspects of the transaction.

6. Delivery Options

Instacart’s commitment to flexibility shines through in its diverse delivery options. 

Customers can choose between same-day or scheduled deliveries, allowing them to select a time slot that best aligns with their daily routines. 

This convenience is a key draw for individuals and families with busy schedules, as it ensures that groceries are delivered directly to their doorstep, saving them time and effort.

7. Delivery Drivers

The final leg of the Instacart process involves the physical delivery of groceries. 

This may be facilitated by Instacart’s own fleet of delivery drivers or through partnerships with third-party delivery services. 

Regardless of the delivery method, these drivers play an essential role in ensuring that the groceries are collected from the store and promptly delivered to the customer’s specified location, be it their residence or another designated address.

8. Communication

Effective communication is paramount within the Instacart ecosystem. 

Throughout the shopping and delivery process, customers and personal shoppers can communicate in real-time through the Instacart app. 

This communication channel serves multiple purposes, including updates on the progress of the order and notifications when the shopper is en route to the delivery address. 

It fosters transparency and ensures that everyone involved in the transaction remains informed and connected.

9. Quality Assurance

Instacart maintains a strong focus on the quality of products and the accuracy of orders. 

Personal shoppers undergo training to handle groceries with care, especially when selecting perishable items like fruits and vegetables. 

Strict guidelines and quality control measures are in place to uphold the company’s high standards, ensuring that customers receive products that meet their expectations.

10. Rating and Reviews

After the delivery is completed, customers have the opportunity to provide feedback through ratings and reviews. 

These evaluations encompass the overall experience and can be used to rate both the personal shopper’s performance and the Instacart service itself. 

This feedback mechanism is invaluable for maintaining and enhancing the quality of Instacart’s services. 

It not only helps shoppers refine their skills but also empowers future customers to make informed choices based on the experiences of their peers.

Ways to Make The Most Money with Instacart

There are numerous strategies and approaches to maximize your earnings as an Instacart shopper. 

Here are the various ways you can make the most money with Instacart:

1. Select High-Demand Hours

To maximize your earnings with Instacart, it’s crucial to strategically choose your working hours. 

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Opt for shifts during high-demand periods in your area when order volumes are at their peak. 

These peak hours often include evenings, weekends, and holidays when more customers are placing orders for groceries and other essentials. 

By aligning your schedule with these busy times, you increase the likelihood of receiving more orders, which can significantly boost your income.

Additionally, consider using Instacart’s heat map feature to identify specific areas with increased demand in real-time. 

This can help you make informed decisions about where and when to work.

Keep in mind that demand may vary depending on your location, so staying flexible and adapting your schedule to local trends can be advantageous.

2. Multi-Batch Shopping

Efficiency is a key factor in making the most money with Instacart, and multi-batch shopping is a strategy that can significantly enhance your efficiency. 

This approach involves accepting and fulfilling multiple orders (batches) simultaneously during a single shopping trip. 

Instacart often offers batch options that can be accepted together, allowing you to complete several deliveries in one go.

To excel at multi-batch shopping, you’ll need careful planning and organization. 

Prioritize items for each order, keep them separated, and ensure accuracy to avoid mixing up items between batches. 

Efficiently navigating the store and utilizing the Instacart app to manage multiple orders can help you optimize your earnings by increasing the number of deliveries you can complete in a given time frame.

3. Choose Busy Stores

When it comes to making the most money with Instacart, the store you select for shopping can significantly impact your earnings potential. 

Opt for stores that consistently have a high order volume. 

These busy stores are more likely to offer a continuous stream of orders, allowing you to stay busy and maximize your income.

To identify busy stores, pay attention to historical order data and customer preferences in your delivery zone. 

Some stores may be more popular due to factors like product variety, location, or reputation.

Familiarize yourself with these preferred stores and prioritize them when accepting orders. 

Additionally, stay open to customer requests for specific stores, as accommodating these preferences can lead to larger tips and repeat business.

4. Efficient Route Planning

Efficient route planning is essential for maximizing your earnings and minimizing travel time between orders. 

Planning your delivery route strategically can help you complete deliveries promptly and take on more orders throughout your shift. 

This not only increases your income but also improves your overall efficiency.

To optimize your route, consider using navigation apps or GPS tools that provide real-time traffic information and the most efficient path to each delivery location. 

When accepting multiple orders, plan your route to minimize backtracking and make the best use of your time and resources. 

By consistently implementing efficient route planning, you can boost your overall earnings as an Instacart shopper.

5. Promote Instacart Express

Instacart Express is a subscription service offered to customers that provides benefits such as free delivery on eligible orders. 

As an Instacart shopper, you can encourage customers to subscribe to Instacart Express during your interactions with them. 

Customers with Instacart Express tend to place orders more frequently due to the cost-saving benefits, which can lead to more work and higher earnings for you as a shopper.

When communicating with customers, whether through in-app messages or in-person interactions, mention the advantages of Instacart Express. 

Emphasize the value of free delivery and how subscribing can simplify their grocery shopping experience. 

6. Offer Exceptional Customer Service

Providing exceptional customer service is paramount when aiming to maximize your earnings as an Instacart shopper. 

Your interactions with customers can directly impact your tips and ratings, which play a significant role in your overall income. 

Here are some key aspects of offering outstanding service:

  • Effective Communication: Maintain clear and timely communication with customers. If an item is out of stock, promptly inform them and suggest suitable alternatives based on their preferences. Notify customers about the status of their order, including when you’re en route to their delivery address.
  • Accuracy and Attention to Detail: Pay close attention to the accuracy of your shopping. Double-check items to ensure they match the customer’s requests and preferences. Handle fragile or perishable items with care to maintain their quality.
  • Timeliness: Aim to complete deliveries within the promised time frame. Being punctual and efficient not only pleases customers but can also lead to better tips and ratings.
  • Politeness and Professionalism: Be courteous and professional in your interactions with customers. A friendly and respectful demeanor can enhance the overall customer experience.

7. Utilize the Referral Program

Instacart offers a referral program that can be a valuable source of additional income for shoppers. 

This program allows you to refer new shoppers to the Instacart platform. 

When someone you refer successfully signs up and starts working as an Instacart shopper, you receive a referral bonus.

To make the most of the referral program, consider reaching out to friends, family members, or acquaintances who might be interested in becoming Instacart shoppers. 

Explain the benefits of the platform, share your experiences, and guide them through the sign-up process. 

8. Benefit from Peak Boost Zones

Instacart frequently offers peak boost zones during busy times or in areas with high demand for grocery deliveries. 

These boost zones come with higher payouts for completed orders, making them an attractive opportunity for maximizing your earnings. 

To take full advantage of peak boost zones:

  • Monitor the Heat Map: Keep an eye on the Instacart app’s heat map, which highlights areas with increased demand. Peak boost zones are often indicated by higher heat map activity.
  • Schedule Accordingly: Whenever possible, schedule your shifts to align with peak boost zone times. By working during these periods, you can increase your earnings per order.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adjust your schedule to accommodate peak boost opportunities, especially during peak shopping seasons or busy holidays.

Participating in peak boost zones can be a strategic way to boost your income, as the higher payouts can significantly impact your earnings, especially during busy times.

9. Accept Long-Distance Orders

While shorter-distance orders are convenient, it’s worth considering long-distance orders as well to maximize your earnings with Instacart. 

Long-distance orders typically require more driving, which can result in higher payouts due to increased mileage reimbursement. 

To effectively accept long-distance orders:

  • Evaluate Your Schedule: Assess your availability and consider accepting long-distance orders during times when traffic is lighter and delivery times are manageable.
  • Balanced Approach: Strike a balance between short-distance and long-distance orders to optimize your overall earnings and mileage.
  • Calculate Earnings: Estimate the potential earnings for each long-distance order, factoring in both the base payment and mileage reimbursement, to ensure they are worth your time.

10. Master Store Layouts

Efficiency in shopping is a key driver of higher earnings as an Instacart shopper, and one way to enhance efficiency is by mastering the layouts of the stores you frequent. 

Here’s how this knowledge can boost your income:

  • Faster Shopping: Knowing the location of items in the store allows you to navigate quickly and find products without delay. This speed can help you complete orders more efficiently.
  • Accuracy: Familiarity with store layouts minimizes the chances of picking the wrong items, reducing the need for item replacements or adjustments and enhancing your accuracy.
  • Multiple Orders: Efficiently shopping for multiple orders in one trip becomes easier when you can efficiently navigate the store and gather items from different orders in a logical sequence.

To master store layouts, consider spending some extra time during non-peak hours to familiarize yourself with the arrangement of products. 

Over time, this knowledge will translate into quicker shopping and more orders completed per hour.

11. Prioritize Speed and Accuracy

Efficiency and accuracy go hand in hand when it comes to maximizing your earnings as an Instacart shopper. 

Here’s why prioritizing both speed and accuracy is essential:

  • Faster Shopping: Speed matters in completing orders, as the faster you shop, the more orders you can handle during your shift.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Accuracy is equally important because customers expect to receive the correct items promptly. Mistakes can lead to lower ratings and tips.
  • Repeat Business: Satisfying customers by delivering their orders quickly and accurately can lead to repeat business and loyal customers who consistently request your services.

To strike the right balance, focus on improving your shopping speed without compromising accuracy. 

Efficiently navigating the store, utilizing the Instacart app effectively, and organizing your shopping cart can help you optimize both speed and accuracy.

12. Capitalize on Seasonal Opportunities

Seasonal events and holidays present excellent opportunities to increase your earnings as an Instacart shopper

Here’s how you can capitalize on these occasions:

  • Increased Demand: During holidays and special events, the demand for grocery delivery often surges as people prepare for gatherings and celebrations.
  • Extended Shifts: Consider extending your shifts or working during peak holiday periods to take advantage of the higher order volumes.
  • Customer Tips: Customers may be more generous with tips during festive seasons, which can significantly boost your earnings.
  • Holiday-Specific Items: Be prepared to handle orders that include holiday-specific items and decorations, as these can result in higher-paying batches.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, making the most money with Instacart is about strategic choices and continuous improvement. 

By selecting high-demand hours, mastering store layouts, and offering exceptional customer service, you can increase your earnings. 

Leveraging the referral program, peak boost zones, and seasonal opportunities further enhances your income potential. 

Efficiency, accuracy, and adaptability are key drivers of success in the world of grocery delivery. 

As you navigate your Instacart journey, remember that a commitment to excellence can lead to higher tips, ratings, and a more prosperous experience overall.

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