Need to go grocery shopping but just don't have the time? Are you stuck at work and won't have enough time to purchase groceries on your way home? Is going to the grocery store difficult for you, and would you prefer to have your groceries delivered?
No matter what your situation is, a quick on-demand grocery service has arrived in Houston. Instacart launched today, August
2627, in the downtown and Inner Loop areas of the city, giving customers options to order food from H-E-B and Whole Foods. In coming weeks, Instacart will add more grocery stores for shoppers. Online shoppers will then have the chance to place items from multiple stores in their virtual shopping carts.
"At any given time, we have a group of personal shoppers on shift in Houston who are kind of waiting for customers to place their orders," Instacart Houston City Launcher Matt O'Connor says. "When the customer places their order, it goes to the personal shopper's smart phone, they go through the store and pick the items based on that shopping list, check out and take it to the customer's door."
If your order is fewer than 15 items, the personal shopper will collect your groceries and deliver within one hour; otherwise he or she will deliver to your home in the designated delivery time window.
O'Connor says the shoppers will also have coolers so that frozen and cold items will stay at the appropriate temperature. Most people don't shop with coolers, so your groceries will likely remain cooler than if you went to the grocery store yourself.
Instacart originally launched in San Francisco and has expanded throughout the country, making Houston the 14th location. O'Connor says Instacart chose Houston as its next location based on customer demand.
"We can track when folks are creating accounts before we launch in a city, and Houston had one of the highest of those in the country," O'Connor says. "Also just in general, it's a really hardworking culture down here with a lot of working professionals who really value convenience. And on top of that, it's kind of in the dog days of summer, so there's no better time to launch in Houston when you can save somebody from lugging groceries in the hundred-degree heat."
Working professionals are one of the four main types of customers Instacart is geared toward. O'Connor explains that the three other "buckets of customers" are parents of younger children, office managers who buy groceries for the office on a weekly basis, and elderly and disabled individuals.
Instacart personal shoppers can fill orders from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. each day. Some of the prices vary from actual store prices, but according to O'Conner, "some can be lower and some are higher and that's front and center on our FAQ, that Instacart prices are our own. There's definitely some savings to be had on certain items, but there's no set pricing rule."
If you place an order on Instacart Wednesday, you will receive a free month of deliveries during the launch promotion, and some of the personal shoppers will deliver groceries in art cars.
"Certain customers might get a little surprise with a tricked-out art car if they place an order [Wednesday]," O'Connor says.