Shipt vs Instacart: Which is Better for Grocery Delivery?

In a nutshell

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The biggest difference between the cost of Shipt and Instacart is that Shipt requires you to buy a membership before you order. But is it worth it?

One thing that we can all agree on is that life is crazy busy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just download an app, pick out your groceries, and get it delivered right to your door the same day?

I’ve got great news for you, it’s possible.

Only a quarter of consumers have tried an online grocery service in the past year, according to a new survey of more than 8,000 U.S. grocery shoppers completed by consulting group Bain & Co. in collaboration with Google. 

If you aren’t using grocery delivery services like Shipt or Instacart, then you may be missing out on the convenience these services bring.

In this article, we will review two grocery delivery titans: Shipt vs Instacart.

What is Instacart?

Get groceries delivered in as little as 1 hour. Get free delivery for 14 days with Instacart+ (previously Instacart Express).

Bottom line: Founded in 2012, Instacart is an American technology company valued at nearly $8 billion that operates as a same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service in the U.S. and Canada. You can have your groceries delivered in as little as one hour.

Instacart costs

  • All orders have a minimum of $10 with no delivery fee if the order exceeds $35. Not including Instacart tips.
  • Instacart has an optional membership called Instacart+ ($99 per year / $10 per month), with unlimited free deliveries on orders exceeding $35.
  • Orders placed without an Instacart+ membership incur a service fee of 5 percent of the order total with the minimum service fee being $4.

Instacart pros

  • One of the fastest grocery delivery services on the list and you can have your groceries delivered in as little as an hour, or you can pick them up at your local store.
  • Using their service saves you time, gas, and not having to pick out your own fruit.
  • Shop from anywhere using your computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device

Instacart cons

  • Many reviews state that the pricing may be higher than in-store retail costs.
  • Many different fees to watch out for so the costs of using Instacart can quickly add up.
  • Instacart uses a percentage-based service fee in place of list price markups, so the price can seem lower before you get to the checkout and see the fees get applied. Shipt does not use service fees. They instead use list item markups, which make the items seem higher priced initially.

What is Shipt?

grocery delivery services
Across the country, people are becoming Shipt Shoppers to engage with their communities and have an impact on the people around them.

Bottom line: Shipt is an American delivery service owned by Target Corporation. It is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. In December 2017 it was announced that Target Corporation was acquiring Shipt for $550 million and that it would operate as an independent subsidiary following the acquisition. It is best for those shoppers who love Target.

Shipt costs

  • Shipt offers a monthly membership for $14 or a $99 yearly membership. However, they offer a 7-day free trial to try out the service.
  • $7 delivery fee for orders under $35, not including Shipt tipping.

Shipt pros

  • Delivery times are super fast as quick as one hour from the time you order.
  • You can order groceries from your favorite grocery stores like Kroger, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, and Meijer.
  • Shipt has shoppers in 250+ markets and 5,000 cities.

Shipt cons

  • A drawback with using Shipt is encountering unavailable items which require communication between your shopper to find a suitable substitution. Compared to the ease of substitutions with Instacart, this is a huge drawback.
  • Another issue is items in the app may be priced higher than quoted within the app. You have to pay the difference.
  • To cancel your membership, you have to contact them via e-mail, phone, or live chat. There is no automatic cancellation option in your account settings. If you opt for the 7-day free trial and wanted to cancel before getting charged, these extra steps required can be tiresome.

Shipt vs Instacart: Availability

Your choice in the Shipt vs Instacart battle can easily be decided if one of them doesn’t service your zip code.

How many cities is Shipt in? Shipt services in over 5,000 cities, from over 130 retailers according to a recent announcement. Recently, Shipt embarked on its largest nationwide expansion in three years, adding nearly 1,000 new store locations to now reach an additional 2 million households.

While Instacart is available in 5,500 cities in North America, 500 more cities than Shipt. The company partners with more than 800 national, regional, and local retail brands to facilitate online shopping, delivery and pickup services from more than 70,000 stores across North America on the Instacart Marketplace.

While Shipt offers more comprehensive coverage than Instacart, there are some areas where Instacart has a stronger presence. For example, Instacart is available in all 50 states, while Shipt services 48 states. In terms of city coverage, Instacart tends to have a stronger presence in smaller cities and rural areas while Shipt is more widely available in major metropolitan areas.

In terms of payment, Instacart accepts the use of EBT payments on its app while Shipt does not.

If you’re trying to decide between the two services, your best bet is to check and see if both are available in your area. If so, you can compare prices and service offerings to see which one is a better fit for you.

Winner for Availability: Instacart is in 500 more cities than Shipt. If you’re trying to decide between the two services, your best bet is to check and see if both are available in your area. If so, you can compare prices and service offerings to see which one is a better fit for you. However, Instacart has more availability than Shipt in 2023.

Shipt vs Instacart: Grocery Stores

Now, who wants to use a grocery delivery service that doesn’t partner up with your favorite retailers like Costco, Kroger, or Target?

Shipt works with stores like Costco, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Kroger, Meijer, Whole Foods, H-E-B, Safeway, and Target.

Instacart takes the cake by partnering up with so many more stores such as Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, H-E-B, CVS, Publix, Food Lion, Costco, Sams Club, Petco and more.

You can see more retail partnerships in the graphic below.

Image Source: CBInsights

Winner for Grocery Stores: Instacart partners with the most popular national and regional retailers such as Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, and Wegmans, among others. The Instacart marketplace offers more than 800 retailers and trusted local grocers that customers love and partners with more stores than Shipt.

Shipt vs Instacart: Deals

Buying groceries can get expensive so you want a grocery delivery service has offers money-saving deals.

Both Shipt and Instacart offer occasional promotional codes to use to save money on your order, which you can receive via email or through their social media pages.

In terms of membership and delivery fees, Instacart has the upper hand. As you can get same-day delivery or next-day delivery without any extra charges. Instacart has more membership options and an optional Instacart+ membership. Instacart wins in terms of membership options and fees.

Winner for Deals: You can save more by using Instacart referral codes, over Shipt’s lack of promotional offers in comparison.

Shipt vs Instacart: Customer Service

You will find that you use any food delivery service sometimes an item will be out of stock or you will need to reach customer service to file a remedy an issue.

Having responsive and helpful customer service is always important.

Shipt offers all the same customer service options like major companies such as a help line (1-205-502-2500), email support ([email protected]), in-app support, and live chat on their support page.

Instacart also has key lines of support with its help line (1-888-246-7822), email support ([email protected]) and in-app support.

We found that Shipt is very slow to respond to inquiries over its email and live chat support service. Often times going 3 to 4 business days without a response to our email inquiries, so Instacart is the clear winner here.

Winner for Deals: Instacart has the upper edge over Shipt’s slower response times over email and live chat support service.

Which is Better?

how does instacart work

Instacart vs Shipt: Having used both grocery delivery services, Instacart is our winner. Instacart partners with more stores, has better deals, and has the upper edge on customer service if you need to remedy any issues. Instacart also does not require you to buy a membership before you order.

By now you should know how Instacart works and Shipt as well. We should have a clear-cut winner but if Instacart isn’t available in your city then Shipt is also a great option or you can check other grocery delivery options.

The main difference between Shipt and Instacart is: While both of these companies get groceries delivered to your door, Instacart has a slight edge as the pricing and fees are better, and you don’t have to buy a membership to use it.

Want to try out Instacart for yourself and be the judge? If you haven’t already signed up for Instacart, you can get started with a promotion for new users so you can get your first delivery free:

How about you? Have you used either company? Who is your winner in the Shipt vs Instacart showdown?

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Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian is the founder of Gigs Done Right and has tried every side hustle under the sun. He teaches people just like you how to make money in the gig economy and has been featured in Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover and more. He normally shares the latest news, videos, and topics for gig workers so they can earn more money in the gig economy.

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Liz Woods
Liz Woods

Shipt is a grocery delivery service owned by Target.The items listed in the app as being available in the select stores are usually not. The stores offered other than Target for delivery have much higher markups than the Target items shown. I had an item missing in my delivery and also the wrong items delivered. They will fool around with your account while you are online browsing. Customer service appears to be located in Alabama. Needs restructuring in my personal opinion.

Ms. Green
Ms. Green

Instacart is definitely better.

SHIPT IS HORRIBLE!! I worked for them for over 6 months and had multiple repeat clients that loved me and tipped me well! Then out of no where i get an email from headquarters saying that i was fired. WITH NO EXPLANTATION AT ALL!! It really sucks. They would not event tell me why. After all the hard work i did and traveling in snow, rain and sleet for them, they are so rude . I would not recommend anyone work for them. They do not respect their employees at all. STAY AWAY!!

David
Reply to  Brian Meiggs

How can you sit here and say you are trying to help the gig community when you post misinformation? Your blog states 5%is proper tipping etiquette to tip and insta cart shopper? Like some one wrote earlier we pick your food we drive our car and deliver to your place of residence. We get paid 7 dollars per batch gas is over 6 bucks! We rely on those tips! Do you understand like some one else mentioned when any one googles how to tip and instcart shopper, this is the blog that comes up! So if I were a member and I was unsure how to tip a shopper and I would Google it I would find your blog and think it’s proper etiquette to tip my shopper 5% because Instacart said so! The company that marks up their groceries and encourages stores to do the same because grocery stores have to pay Instacart a percentage of ever product sold. Hence why items are more expensive in the app then they are in store.. and the membership that Instacart advertises to their members they pocket all that when we get those membership orders the batch pay is like 5 or 6 dollars with no tip and what the doe is group those orders with people who do tip so the order looks good only to find out 1 out of the 3 people left a good tip and the other 2 orders left a zero tip! How can you trust what a company who does that to their shoppers says about tipping etiquette. You even compared us to servers at restaurants and mention 20% being the proper amount tip… Yet we do a hella lot more than they do sir just because a greedy company says you should tip their shoppers paying for their own gas adding miles to their car picking your groceries 5% doesn’t mean it’s true. Does not mean we shoppers are in agreement with that amount. It just means Instacart doesn’t think their shoppers should be tipped for their services.. taking their word for it before asking other shoppers is a mistake especially when you are claiming you are apart of this community or you are tr ying to help this community!!! Your blog is hurting or community.. but don’t believe me ask other shoppers what they feel about your 5%tipping etiquette blog that generates first on Google when some one wants to know how to tip their shoppers!!! I don’t think you realize just how much we are relying on tipping and how a blog like this negatively affects us shoppers. You should have really interviewed shoppers before you go off writing a blog on how you should tip them.. you could’ve of even became a shopper for a week so you can see what we go through and make a judgement from that perspective. What you shouldn’t do is listen to a company who’s been caught stealing our tips! They pay us 5-8 dollars for a batch that’s 2-29 miles away with 30+ items. We deliver to apartments 3 stories high, we deliver in the worst weather conditions. Our gas is not compensated the miles we put in our car aren’t either…. What we makeper batch is already humiliating now you are going to create this tipping etiquette that’s taking money out of our pockets!

emily
emily

Ive worked for both companies and i personally think that they both treat their employees poorly. I am currently still employed through instacart and even through COVID, they arent offering their employees any extra compensation and are terrible with communicating with us. They FINALLY sent us an email today that we will be able to apply to be sent a mask and gloves….would have though they would have sent us those things when all of this first started a month ago! Yikes….

Anonymous
Anonymous

I had good experiences with Instacart until a week ago. The shopper placed a bag of chicken in my cart and rang up $37.48 for a $14.99 bag of chicken. I texted that I didn’t want, and the shopper said don’t worry, it would only cost $14.99. The charges stayed, and I reported the error to Instacart a week ago, with no response, yet. The incorrect bill has reached my bank and still no word from Instacart. the shopper wasn’t concerned about overcharging me and Instacart customer service has been non-existent, so far.