Instacart Just Launched 2 Changes to Make It Easier and Faster to Get Your Groceries

updated Apr 8, 2020
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Credit: Instacart

If you’ve tried to schedule an Instacart grocery delivery (or even a curbside pickup) anytime during this near-nationwide ask to stay home, you may have noticed that it’s been pretty close to impossible to set something up. Time slots are either not available at all or only available in the decently distant future. And it makes sense for many reasons. For one, orders are surging as people either aren’t willing or able to do a shop of their own. (Last week, the company saw an increased volume of orders by more than 300 percent year-over-year.) And also the Instacart shoppers — gig workers who pick up groceries at the store and deliver them to customers’ doorsteps — have to put themselves at risk every time they enter a store. (These gig workers recently went on strike and Instacart made changes to improve safety measures for shoppers.)

With no solid idea of when this will all be over, Instacart just announced the launch of two new features, specifically designed to speed up service and open up more delivery windows.

“The customer demand we expected over the next two to four years has happened on the Instacart platform in the last two to four weeks,” says Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart. In attempts to keep up with the demand, Instacart execs are being forced to get creative — quickly. Let’s take a look at the new features, shall we?

Instacart’s Big Change: You Don’t Have to Check for Delivery Windows Anymore

With the new Fast & Flexible feature, customers no longer need to check for updated delivery windows. Instead, you just place your order and pick to have it delivered by the first available shopper. (No scheduling it for a specific delivery window.) When you choose the Fast & Flexible option, you’ll see an estimated delivery range (for example: Tuesday through Thursday) and will be notified when your order is picked up by a shopper and scheduled for delivery.

According to company tests of this new feature, Fast & Flexible has increased available delivery windows by 50 percent and also increased delivery speed, with 85 percent of all Fast & Flexible orders arriving within the earlier portion of the estimated delivery range.

Note: This feature is available for all orders except those containing alcohol purchases, due to regulations in some states that limit the times during which alcohol can be purchased.

Plus, You Can Now Order Ahead on Instacart

One tip we’ve been hearing from Kitchn readers, no matter what service they’re using, is to place an order — even if it’s not finished — and then to slowly add to the cart over the next few days until the order is actually being fulfilled. Instacart is now offering an updated Order Ahead feature, which allows customers to place orders up to two weeks in advance. (The previous Order Ahead feature only allowed customers to select delivery windows up to seven days ahead.) “This new functionality allows customers to build their digital cart well in advance of when they need their groceries or goods,” the company explains.

This feature is available today in a number of high-demand locations, and will be rolling out across North America to all customers in the coming weeks. 

Have you tried Instacart recently? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.