Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shipt vs Instacart – Which grocery shopping and delivery service is better to work for?

App based gigs are really booming right now and grocery stores are taking advantage of this trend by partnering with services such as Shipt and Instacart. These apps allow customers to order groceries from their local stores and have them delivered quickly. I have worked for both of these companies and have found each has their own strengths and weaknesses. In this article we will compare what it is like working for Shipt and Instacart.

Getting Started / Applying
Both companies are fairly easy to apply for and do not require too much experience or prerequisites. You will need your own car if you will be delivering. Driving record and background is also checked to ensure there are no issues. There are basic training tutorials for both that need to be completed before you start. If you are accepted, you receive a company credit card and can begin scheduling hours to shop.

Basics
While both services work a little differently, the main concept is the same. You are given a customer's list of items and are assigned to a store to shop for them. In the store, you scan the items using the camera on your phone. You check out using the company pre-paid card. Then you deliver the order to the customer. It is pretty straight forward and not too hard as long as you are organized and enjoy grocery shipping.

Scheduling / Getting Orders
This is one of the biggest differences between the two. With Instacart you are able to schedule hours for the week starting at a certain time. Some people who maintain a high amount of hours each week are able to schedule earlier. You are only allowed to schedule for hours that are open so it can be hard to get hours depending on how many shoppers are in your area and how busy it is.

With Instacart you basically have to be on call when you are scheduled and if there is an order, they will send it to you during this time. You are expected to accept it and be on your way to the store quickly once you are sent an order.

With Shipt, you are able to put yourself on the schedule for any hours you want, and they will send you orders that are to be delivered during those times. They send you the orders ahead of time so you will have time to prepare and plenty of time to shop for them.

Using the App
Both the apps for Shipt and Instacart work fairly similar. They each use a scanning feature to check off items on the list. They also allow you to contact the customer by text or phone if there are any issues or questions. I find Instacart's app to be a little more responsive and the scanning feature works better. I also like that they show the pictures of the items in the list without having to click on each one manually to see the pictures as is done in the Shipt app.

The Shipt app does have some benefits of its own for example you can customize the layout of the categories which can make it easier to navigate the shopping list. Also I find the customer text communication to be more reliable with Shipt.

One really helpful feature with Shipt is they tell you the item location such as which aisle it is in. I believe some stores with Instacart have this feature but none of the stores I have shopped for in my area have this option.

Delivering
The delivery procedure is very similar between the two. Each gives you the delivery address which opens up in your map app of choice and then you just use the navigation for directions. Once you arrive, you give the groceries to the customer and mark it as delivered. That's about it!

So what are the strengths and weaknesses for each?

Pros for Instacart
- Better pay. While the pay can vary greatly depending on which zone or location you are working, I found that when comparing similar sized orders, Instacart pays significantly more per order. Shipt does offer bonuses sometimes, for example if an order is getting close to when it needs to be delivered and no one has picked it up yet, they may offer to pay more.

- Better bar code scanner. It's really amazing how well the Instacart scanner can pick up the bar codes. You can hold it at any angle or distance, moving around, crinkled packaging, and it will still pick it up. I find with the Shipt scanner, it takes much longer to read and sometimes it will not read at all even when it is very clear, still, and centered.

- Images in shopping list make it easy to scan quickly. In the Shipt app, to see the pictures, you have to click on each one individually which takes up time.

- Less things to worry about. With Instacart, it is more automated, for example it lets the customer know what you are doing from the time you start to the time you mark the order as delivered. With Shipt you have to text them to let them know when you start and when you are on the way. Also with Shipt for some reason you have to fill out a tax exempt form for each order. You also have to scan the receipt and take a picture of the receipt, all steps which make the process more difficult compared to Instacart.

- More stores to shop for. It can vary depending on the area, but for example in my zone, Instacart partners with about 10 different stores and many locations for each of these stores. With Shipt, my zone has only 1 partner and one store so it is much more limited in terms of shopping locations. Shipt may grow over time, but right now it seems to be more limited.

Pros For Shipt
- Better transparency. With Shipt, you are given all the order details ahead of time so you know what you are getting into. For example, you know the customer name, address, number of items, and list of actual items in the order before you commit to head out to the store. With Instacart, some of this information is withheld and not revealed until you have agreed to shop the order, are at the store, or have completed shopping for all the items.

- Better morale / community. Browsing the Facebook support groups for each service gives two very different impressions. With Instacart, most of the posts tend to be negative and complaining in nature while most of the posts in the Shipt group are more positive. This could be because the Shipt group is managed by Shipt, while the Instacart group is managed by the shoppers, but the difference in morale is very noticeable.

- Easier to schedule. With Shipt, there is no fighting for hours or constantly checking the app for new openings. With Instacart, everyone is trying to schedule at the same time and it can be hard to get hours.

- No Timing. With Shipt, since you are given the order details ahead of time, you can go to the store as early as you want so you can give yourself as much time as you need. The shopping is not timed either. With Instacart, everything is timed and you are expected to act immediately when you are sent an order.

More details for finding items. For many stores, Shipt gives the aisle and exact location in that aisle for the items. This makes it much easier to find items especially if you are unfamiliar with the store layout or if something is very hard to find on the shelf.

Conclusion
As you can see, there is no clear cut winner as to which grocery delivery service is best to work for since each has their own positives and negatives. While Instacart tends to pay better, the morale of the shoppers tends to be lower. With Shipt, it does not pay as much, but shoppers tend to be more happy overall.

The good thing is, with these apps, the developers are constantly working to make them better so hopefully they can both get better over time. Businesses like these in the gig-based economy can change overnight so it is a good idea to keep your options open. If you like grocery shopping, I recommend trying out both Shipt and Instacart first hand to see which one you like best.

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