Grocery delivery service Instacart is now making door-to-door deliveries to hungry customers in Raleigh and Durham.
The San Francisco-based company held a “soft launch” of its service last week and officially makes its local debut on Tuesday.
“We’re excited to be entering the Raleigh-Durham market,” said Nick Friedrich, general manager. “It’s a fast-growing market. ... We think the consumer base there is ideal for our service.”
Instacart is delivering fresh fruit and vegetables and other products that local consumers order via the company’s website, or through its mobile app, from a half-dozen participating retailers: BJ’s Wholesale, Costco, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Petco and Whole Foods Market. Consumers don’t have to be members of warehouse clubs BJ’s and Costco to order from them.
Orders can’t be made by phone.
Founded in 2012, Instacart has raised $274.8 million from investors and is now operating in 23 metropolitan areas nationwide. In the Triangle it’s competing with a host of delivery-oriented competitors in the food realm, including Amazon and more specialized services such as Relay Foods, which works mostly with local producers and delivers the food to various pickup spots; The Produce Box, whichdelivers boxes stuffed with a variety of produce, and Blue Apron, which provides all the ingredients you need for a home-cooked meal.
To entice local consumers to give its service a try, Instacart is offering one free delivery.
After that, regular deliveries that come within two hours – or longer, if that’s what the customer wants – start at $5.99 for orders of more than $35 and $9.99 for orders of less than $35. One-hour deliveries are also available at a higher price.
Deliveries for orders of more than $35 are free for Instacart Express members who pay $14.99 per month or $149 annually.
Consumers can order from multiple stores for a single delivery price.
That caters to people who “like to buy their produce from one store and dry goods from another store,” Friedrich said.
Instacart “personal shoppers,” who are independent contractors, hand-pick the groceries and deliver them.
Prices are set by the retailers and are displayed on the website.
Three of the stores – Food Lion, Petco and Whole Foods – sell their products via Instacart at prices that are comparable, on average, to what in-store customers pay. The other retailers charge prices that are 15 percent higher, or more, on average.
Although Instacart does offer deals on products, it doesn’t match in-store specials.
“We’re working with retailers on that, because we know that’s something that consumers want,” Friedrich said.
Instacart initially is delivering in 17 ZIP codes in Raleigh and Durham, and also to students who live on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Consumers can go to the company’s website or use its mobile app to determine if delivery is available in their area.