And one particular company that has really benefited from the recent boom in online grocery shopping is Instacart, a startup now with a valuation of upwards of $14 billion.
Instacart has already forged partnerships with more than four hundred national, regional, and local retailers, including Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, and Wegmans, among others.
“Every day, we would see that the volume was 20 percent higher than the last day,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta recently told Bloomberg Businessweek.
“In a matter of a couple of weeks, we were already ahead of our end-of-year goal. A week later, we were ahead of our 2021 goals, and a few days after that, we were ahead of our 2022 goals. And so, at a certain point, we stopped counting.”
Investors of Instacart must be jumping for joy, but what about the shoppers? Many are saying that they are still just scraping by.
According to Indeed, the earnings of an Instacart shopper average out to $14.54 an hour, including tips. Each delivery, without tips, comes out to roughly between $7 and $10.
But earnings with a gratuity can also vary wildly depending on where you live and whether the customers you serve are generous.
There have been reports of some individuals making $2,000 a week, but the bulk of their earnings came from tips. Customers typically give an extra $5 or roughly 20 percent of the total bill, whichever is higher.
Full-service Instacart shoppers “get paid per batch that they complete. Instacart provides estimates for your earnings on every order as well as total earnings for the week. The amount you earn per batch of orders depends on the number of items, type of items, driving distance, and effort involved in shopping and delivering. You keep 100% of customer tips. You also get opportunities to earn extra through promotions Instacart runs,” the company says on its website.
“As independent contractors, full-service shoppers have the flexibility to work as little or as often as they want. This means that total earnings potential depends on the individual.”
Moreover, Instacart shoppers now must deal with the troubling trend of “tip baiting.” As an order can be canceled right up until delivery, some customers promise giant tips, then change the amount to $0 after the groceries have been delivered.
The Instacart shopper will see a message saying that the “customer modified the tip post-delivery.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.