How to become an Instacart Full Service or In-Store Shopper

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What is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service. Customers place an order for groceries via an app and receive them within one hour courtesy of an Instacart shopper and driver.

The company provides two options for potential hires.

  • Full-Service Shopper
  • In-Store Shopper

Instacart Full-Service Shopper

They pick out the grocery items in the order (or badge as its called at Instacart), bag them and deliver them to the customer. They are considered to be independent contractors.

Instacart In-Store Shopper

They pick out the grocery items in the order and bag them. They are considered to be part-time employees (29 work hours maximum per week).

Basic Job Requirements

Shoppers get to pick their own schedule and are paid weekly via direct deposit. The basic requirements for either role are:

  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Eligible to work in the United States.
  • A smartphone that is either an iPhone 4s or an Android 4.0 or newer.
  • Be able to lift between 30 to 40 lbs. by yourself or with some assistance.

In addition to the above, a full-service shopper must have:

  • Consistent access to a vehicle.
  • Minimum of two years or more of driving experience.

Signing Up to be a Full Service or In-Store Shopper

Signing up for either role is all done online. The process is continuously updated for easy use and prompt hiring.

The sign-up form requires your first and last name. Email address. Cellphone number. Zip code and referral code (if any). Then come questions that confirm you have the basic requirements listed above. The final section is an online orientation. They tell you about Instacart's origins and mission statement. Benefits of working for them and how you earn money.

To complete your online sign-up, you will be asked to submit the form then install the Instacart Shopper app. A background and criminal check will be done.

Instacart Shopper App

Once you download the app you will:

  • Enter your driving license (full-service shopper) and your direct deposit information and sign your paperwork
  • Take a profile picture. (Take a good picture as it will be seen by the customer quite frequently.)
  • Activate your payment card. (You will be told which store to pick it up from.)

In-store orientations are no longer offered. Review the help section and do a demo run on the app to get comfortable before your first shift.

Instacart t-shirts can be requested via email or picked up at one of their main stores. You are not required to wear the t-shirt at all times but it is a good marketing tool.

Selecting Hours

Hours are issued by zone. Your zone is linked to the zip code you entered when you signed up.

Instacart uses a scheduling system called Early Access. Existing shoppers need to either work 90 hours in the last three weeks or 25 hours over the last three weekend to qualify. New shoppers get three weeks of automatic early access. Early access is available on Sunday morning at 9 am.

After early access selection, hours are picked as they become available throughout the week. You will need to keep checking the app for them if you do not qualify for early access. You may select to work hours in a neighboring zone if none are available in yours.

How You Earn Money

There are a number of ways to earn money as an Instacart Full Service or In-Store Shopper.

  • You get paid for completing a customer's digital shopping list.
  • You get paid for each item purchased while shopping. This amount is currently $0.40
  • You get paid for receiving great customer service ratings.
  • You get paid for large orders, long delivery distances, and for using specific retailers.
  • Referral bonus for potential employees or customers
  • Full-service shoppers also have the added benefit of earning tips.

How Much Do You Get Paid

In-store shoppers are paid approximately $9 an hour. However, this amount can vary from city to city.

Full-service shoppers are not employees so there is no guaranteed hourly rate for them. Drivers appear to be earning a base amount of approximately $4 per order. This also varies from city to city.

Instacart appears to be struggling to find a happy medium between making a profit and ensuring their shoppers make decent earnings. They have changed their payment structure twice in the last two years in an attempt to find a good balance.


Instacart has a "shopper happiness" team that provides assistance via phone, email or social media. As a shopper phone is your best option for immediate assistance. If something can wait then use email.

Good To Keep In Mind

The Instacart business model is proving to be quite popular as more and more people begin to outsource their shopping needs. They are therefore hiring to stay ahead of demand as opposed to necessarily meeting the demand.

What this means for those coming onboard now is that there is more competition for available time slots and subsequently dollars.

How To Earn A Good Rating

  • Fill out orders accurately and quickly
  • Deliver orders on time
  • Work your requested hours
  • Accept all orders you receive within your requested working time slot.

Comparing Instacart to Ride Sharing

Rideshare opportunities do pay more but working with Instacart has benefits some drivers may prefer.

The peak times of Instacart are not the same as those of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. This may allow you to possibly take advantage of both opportunities as opposed to choosing one over the other.

There is also the benefit of not having to carry strangers in your vehicles. This has the added benefit of reduced wear and tear on your personal vehicle.

Also, the size of your vehicle is not an issue since it just needs to be big enough for you and the groceries you will be delivering.

Instacart also does not have a vehicle age restriction like most rideshare companies. So long as your vehicle works you're good to go. However, don't forget that sometimes, first impressions extend to your vehicle.

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