With coronavirus (COVID-19) hoisting use of online grocery shopping, Instacart plans to hire another 300,000 full-service personal shoppers over the next three months.
Instacart said Monday that the hiring push will more than double the size of its personal shopper community. The shopper additions will focus on states with the highest demand, including California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia and Ohio, the San Francisco-based online grocery delivery company said.
Over the the last few weeks, as cases of COVID-19 have mounted nationwide, order volume has jumped more than 150% year over year, Instacart reported, called the surge in demand unprecedented for its online grocery platform. The average basket size also has grown by 15%.
“The last few weeks have been the busiest in Instacart’s history, and our teams are working around the clock to reliably and safely serve all members of our community. Instacart shoppers have stepped up as household heroes for families, grandparents, and people in need coast-to-coast,” founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement. “We expect to see continued customer demand and, as a result, we’re opening up 300,000 more full-service shopper roles across North America.”
By far, Instacart aims to hire the most full-service personal shoppers in California (54,000) and New York (27,000). Other states targeted for significant shopper additions include Texas (18,000), Florida (15,000), Illinois (15,000), Pennsylvania (12,000), Virginia (12,000), New Jersey (12,000), Georgia (9,000) and Ohio (9,000).
“As more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn while also delivering for the communities in which they live,” Mehta added.
Instacart currently employs approximately 130,000 full-service shoppers and about 12,000 in-store shoppers and to fulfill online grocery orders for same-day delivery or pickup. Full-service shoppers operate as independent contractors who pick, pack and/or deliver an order from a store to the customer’s door. In-store shoppers are part-time Instacart employees who pick, pack and stage items at a dedicated store.
Instacart said it’s working with local and national authorities to monitor COVID-19 and adhering to recommendations from public health officials.
Overall, Instacart delivers online grocery orders from more than 25,000 stores in over 5,500 cities in North America. The company partners with 350-plus national, regional and local retailers, reaching more than 85% of U.S. households and 70% of Canadian households.
“U.S. grocers have served as the backbone of the communities they operate in for decades. Now, more than ever, they provide a critical service for Americans confined to their homes and in need of the basic necessities amid the spread of COVID-19,” commented Suzanne Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Instacart is serving as a critical lifeline for millions of people and hundreds of businesses during these uncertain times. They’re not only connecting people from all 50 states to the groceries and goods they so desperately need, but they’re also stepping in to support the economy by unlocking much-needed earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people who can no longer rely on their previous incomes.”
Instacart noted that it’s working with local and national authorities to monitor COVID-19 and following recommendations from public health officials. To help protect personal shoppers and customers, the company said it has introduced a range of initiatives and new platform features.
For example, Instacart shoppers now have access to a set of guidelines, developed in tandem with a panel of health and safety experts, to ensure they have the resources they need to shop safely. All Instacart part-time employees also now have access to sick pay, an accrued benefit that can be used as paid time off if they are absent from work because of illness or injury. Instacart, too, is offering up to 14 days of pay for any part-time employee—including in-store shoppers, shift leads, site managers or Instacart Care agents — or full-service shoppers diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in individual mandatory isolation or quarantine.
On the safety side, Instacart said that over the last few weeks it has worked with local teams to provide cleaning supplies for in-store shoppers and staging areas. The company added that it has secured hand sanitizer to distribute to shoppers across the community, and more supplies are slated to become available “in the coming days and weeks.”
And for Instacart customers, orders can be designated as “Leave at My Door Delivery.” The company said almost 40% of all orders last week used the new Leave at My Door Delivery drop-off option, providing a safer mode of delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Another key feature, giving the unprecedented demand at grocery stores, is automatic cancellation of out-of-stock orders. If a customer’s entire order isn’t in stock, the order will be canceled automatically and the customer notified.
Instacart, too, has instituted “ratings forgiveness” for personal shoppers during this time of uncertain supply and demand. Customer ratings under five stars will be removed during this period, and a shopper’s average star rating won’t affect their access to batches, the company said. In addition, shoppers can choose the “cancel batch” button to cancel a batch up until the point they arrive at the store.
This piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.