How to Make the Most of Shopping for Instacart

Shopping lists in app format


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Shopping basket
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Shopping Insta-Smart

As online grocery shopping becomes more popular, consumers are turning to Instacart — one of the most popular grocery delivery services — to have their groceries brought directly to their front door. As the number of Instacart delivery customers increases, so does the number of Instacart shoppers who scour the stores gathering the customers' items. If you’re a shopper — or considering becoming one — here are 15 of the best Instacart hacks to make the most of your time and effort.

Related: The Best Tips and Tricks for Buying Groceries with Instacart

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Head to a High Demand Location

Instacart shoppers have the best success when they shop in high-demand zones. Finding batches, or customer orders, with higher payments means more money for shoppers. Shoppers can find high-demand zones on the shopper app, which will show nearby zones with higher batch payments.

Related: Instacart Launching a Ready-Made Meal Service

Asian Woman Pushing Shopping Cart Full Of Groceries

Choose Orders With Care

One of the more obvious shopper tips, be sure to choose a batch that's worth the money. Selecting a smaller batch can be a waste of time after adding in the base pay and tip. This is something you will learn over time as a shopper. 

Related: 22 Tips for a Successful Side Hustle

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Refresh the Page to Find New Orders

It’s easy to miss Instacart opportunities as they come in if you’re not being vigilant. Scrolling and making sure you see the most recent orders is the best way to nab the high-paying batches before someone else can take the order.  

Related: How Instacart is Keeping Tips in Workers' Pockets

Buying Convenient Food

Pay Boost for Peak Hours

During peak times, Instacart incentivizes shoppers by offering pay boosts ranging from $2-$12, with an average boost of $8. Shoppers can claim peak time shifts on the Instacart Shopper App to claim one of the limited slots available.

Related: 46 Simple Ways to Make Extra Money

Grocery Shopping
Grocery Shopping by Bill Lapp (CC BY)

Develop a Shopping Routine

From bagging your groceries yourself to starting at the deli, there are many ways to maximize your shopping experience. Developing a routine can help get you in and out of the store quickly, allowing shoppers to accept new batches and make more money. 

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Cart Return
Cart Return by Northwest Retail (CC BY-SA)

Park Near the Cart Return

The routine starts before a shopper even steps foot in the store. Instead of parking in the first open space, try to park efficiently. Choose a spot closest to the entrance you’ll be using that is also as close as possible to the cart return. As soon as you load your vehicle, you can return the cart and be on your way quickly.

Shopping basket
Techa Tungateja/istockphoto

Always Check the Notes Section

Before making your way into the store, check the notes section of the shopping list. This is an excellent way for customers to leave requests and helpful notes for their shoppers. Ignoring a customer’s notes can cause problems and delay batch completion, costing shoppers a bigger tip.

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Be Aware of Order Changes

It is common to shop for a customer and run into trouble when looking for a popular item. If you can’t find a requested item and choose a similar one, be aware of the price of the replacement item. Try to find something with a comparable price to keep the customer happy. 

Shopping lists in app format

Keep in Touch With Customers

Both the customer and the shopper need to be near their app when an order is filled. As a shopper, text your customers about any item changes right away. The sooner you send a text, the faster they can reply, which will help you complete your order as quickly as possible.

Smartphone Charging.

Always Keep Your Phone Charged

There is nothing worse than your phone dying in the middle of filling an order. You do not know what else you have on your list, but you’ll have to put everything back and go to your car — or worse, home — to charge your phone, wasting shopping time. Always keep your phone charged and have a portable or a car charger handy.

Bag cooler bright green for carrying and storing products

Invest in Insulated Grocery Bags

Investing in insulated grocery bags is not a must. Still, it’s a great way to impress the customers while making your life easier as a shopper. Insulated bags keep frozen foods from melting, but they can also help you categorize when handling multiple batches at once. 

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Keep a Record of Receipts

It’s essential to keep all receipts until you’ve received your payment from Instacart. While it’s not common to run into issues, sometimes, a customer may dispute a purchase. Once you’ve been paid, feel free to throw away those older receipts.

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alano design/istockphoto

Get Cashback by Uploading Receipts

Because the shoppers get to keep the receipts, shoppers can upload them for cashback rewards. Uploading receipts to Ibotta, PayPal, Fetch, or similar rewards services can be an additional side hustle, as they offer cashback and gifts.

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Track Your Mileage For Tax Season

Tracking your mileage will make tax season much smoother. It’s easy to track your mileage using any of the many apps on the market today. As an Instacart shopper, the miles will add up quickly. In fact, for tax year 2022, the standard rate is 58.5 cents per mile

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Refer Your Friends

Once you complete 40 hours as an Instacart shopper, you can start referring friends. Instacart pays referral bonuses for shoppers who get their friends to sign up using their custom referral code. Once your friends sign up and fill 45 batches in 30 days, you’ll receive $1,000 in credits.

Find more smart money tips right here.