Grocery delivery services are all the rage right now, and for good reason – more and more people are choosing delivery services over visiting the grocery store, and services like Instacart and Shipt offer a flexible way to make extra money.
But if you are looking for a side hustle and want to deliver groceries, how do you choose whether you shop for Instacart vs. Shipt? We're going to break down the key differences to help you decide if Instacart or Shipt is better to work for.
What is Shipt?
Shipt was founded in 2014 in Birmingham, AL, but it was acquired by Target in 2017. It's grown significantly since then, and operates in close to 300 cities across the U.S. Shipt delivers groceries, home products, and even some electronics. According to Bloomberg Second Measure, Shipt holds approximately 6% of the market share.
Join Shipt's team of shoppers
Set your hours and get paid $15-$20/hour to grocery shop — sweet!
Until recently, Shipt was a membership-only site, but they’ve expanded their services to non-members, which opens the door for even more orders for Shipt shoppers.
You can still pay for a membership to Shipt Everyday at $99 a year, and this comes with free deliveries on orders over $35. Members pay $7 per delivery for orders under $35. Non-members can use Shipt but pay a $10 delivery fee (Shipt describes this fee as a one-time membership pass) for each order.
What is Instacart?
Instacart was started in 2012 and has grown to deliver to over 5,500 cities across the U.S. and Canada. They’ve partnered with over 500 retailers with more than 25,000 grocery stores and hold 45% of the grocery delivery market share. As of May 2022, Instacart has filed with the SEC to go public.
Instacart has two different options for workers: full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers. Instacart regularly hires both types of shoppers.
Here’s the difference:
- Full-service shoppers are independent contractors who shop for orders and deliver them, and they can work as many hours a week as they want. Full-service shoppers must have a reliable vehicle to deliver orders.
- In-store shoppers work part-time for Instacart, only shop for and package orders, and are limited to no more than 29 hours per week. There's no vehicle required to be an in-store shopper.
Shipt vs. Instacart: Availbility
Availability is going to be a huge factor if you're interested in becoming a driver for either, and Instacart has a serious advantage here. While Shipt is available in approximately 300 cities across the U.S., Instacart is available in thousands.
Shipt has expanded dramatically since it was acquired by Target in 2017, but it just doesn't match Instacart's reach. With the popularity of food delivery services, we can expect that Shipt will expand even more.
Both services deliver groceries from national and local chains, and here are a few of the stores you may get paid shop to at:
Total Wine & More
The Container Store
Bed Bath & Beyond
You can check the availability and which stores they deliver for by going to Instacart and Shipt's sites and entering your zip code.
The winner is...
Instacart is the obvious winner because it's available in thousands of cities across the U.S. and more than 500 grocery stores and retailers.
Shipt vs. Instacart: Shopper Requirements
Instacart and Shipt's shopper requirements are nearly identical, and they're the same as most other food delivery services. Overall, both have a fairly low barrier to entry, which is great if you need an easy option to start making money.
Here are the Shipt shopper requirements:
- At least 18 years of age (21 to accept orders with alcohol)
- Valid U.S. driver's license and auto insurance
- A reliable vehicle, 1997 or newer
- Knowledge of produce selection
- Ability to lift 40 lbs
- iPhone (iOS 10 or newer) or Android (5.1 or newer) smartphone
Here are the Instacart shopper requirements:
- At least 18 years old (21 to accept orders with alcohol)
- Eligible to work in the United States
- Full-service shoppers need consistent access to a vehicle, in-store shoppers just need a way to get to and from work
- Consistent access to and be able to effectively use a recent smartphone (iPhone 6s / Android 5.0 or newer)
- Ability to lift 50 lbs with or without accommodation
The main differences on shopper requirements are that in-store Instacart shoppers aren't required to have a car because you're shopping in the store only and not making deliveries. Instacart just needs you to be able to get to and from work.
Shipt also asks that shoppers have a knowledge of the produce selection. They want you to be able to quickly find what produce the customer has ordered and to make sure it's fresh. It's safe to say that Instacart would like the same from its grocery shoppers, but they don't explicitly say it.
The winner is...
This is a very narrow win, but we're giving it to Instacart because in-store shoppers aren't required to have access to a vehicle. Since not everyone has a car, Instacart will be accessible for more people.
Instacart vs. Shipt: Shopper pay
Does Shipt or Instacart pay more? Shipt and Instacart are fairly even when it comes to pay, and drivers for both make between $15-$20/hour on average.
How Instacart calculates shopper pay
Instacart uses a complex algorithm to figure out how much full-service shoppers make. It factors in the number of items in each order, the kind of items, driving distance, and the amount of effort it takes to shop and deliver the order.
Instacart shoppers are typically paid more for larger orders and during busier times. For example, if you were willing to work during holidays, you will probably make more than you would on a typical weekday.
How Shipt calculates shopper pay
Shipt's original pay model was very simple: $5 per order plus 7.5% of total customer pay. However, Shipt has started unrolling a new pay model that's far less transparent. The new model, called V2, is $5 base pay per order plus an unspecified additional amount that's based on miles driven and total items.
When and how Instacart and Shipt shoppers are paid
- Shipt pays out every Friday via direct deposit. Most shoppers receive their previous week’s pay by Wednesday. Shipt has an Instant Pay option if you don't want to wait the full week to receive your funds. Stripe, the payment service Shipt uses for Instant Pay, charges a 1% fee for the quick pay option.
- Instacart shoppers are paid every week via direct deposit to a checking or savings account. Full-service shoppers can use the Instant Cashout feature and immediately transfer funds to their debit card up to five times per day. There is a $0.50 transaction fee each time you use Instant Cashout and a daily $3,000 limit.
The winner is...
Because you can make the same with either service and both offer fast pay options.
Shipt vs. Instacart: Shopper experience
These two apps are really similar in how they work for shoppers. Both apps let you schedule your hours in advance, and then once you’re “on”, you start seeing available orders in the app.
Instacart and Shipt both give you information about orders before you accept them. The order details show:
- Estimated pay
- Shopping location
- Estimated shopping time
You can accept or reject orders from both Shipt and Instacart. For example, you might reject small orders because they don’t pay as well.
Once you accept an order, you drive to the store and start shopping. The list of items you need is in the app, and you can use the app to contact the customer about substitutions if an item is out of stock.
Instacart and Shipt both have customers pay for the order in advance so you do not need to pay for them with your money. There are some instances when you'll need to use a prepaid card, but again, you should never have to pay for an order with your money or fuss with coupons.
Customers are notified in the app about the progress of their orders – when it was accepted, who their shopper is, and when it’s on the way to their house. It’s a fairly simple process overall, and you’re given directions for everything in the app, from driving directions to what you need to shop for.
The winner is...
Both grocery delivery services offer an easy-to-use experience for shoppers. The apps are intuitive and give you all of the information you need to successfully accept, shop for, and deliver your orders.
Instacart vs. Shipt: Shopper support
Shipt and Instacart have the same 24/7 shopper support options if you have any issues. This includes phone and email support, and both actively reply to issues through Facebook and Twitter, but these aren’t official support channels.
Shipt Shopper Support
Instacart Shopper Support
Phone (205) 502-2500
Phone (888) 246-7822
In 2020, both companies changed their policies on sick pay. Instacart gives shoppers one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. And there’s also a new contactless delivery option so customers can leave delivery instructions like “leave it on the porch.” Drivers use the app to take a picture of the delivered groceries.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Shipt began providing up to 2 weeks of financial assistance to shoppers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed under mandatory quarantine because of an infected family member. Shipt also offers contactless delivery.
With fuel costs surging in 2022, here's how Instacart and Shipt have been supporting their shoppers:
- Instacart implemented a temporary surcharge of $0.40 that's charged to customers to offset rising fuel costs. They also have a partnership with Upside, a cashback gas app, so drivers can earn up to $0.35/gallon of gas.
- Shipt began offering a Fill-Up Bonus to its busiest shoppers that ranges in a one-time payment of $35-$150. Shipt also has a partnership with Upside so drivers can earn up to $0.35 back per gallon of gas.
The winner is...
Instacart and Shipt have similar shopper support contacts, and both have launched programs to help shoppers get through tough times.
The final word on Instacart vs. Shipt
Here’s the thing: either one of these grocery delivery services is a legitimate option if you want to start making extra money. You pick your own hours, make a decent amount for the work you’re doing, and you can work for more than one at a time.
The reality is that whether you choose Shipt or Instacart will most likely come down to where you live.
Both Shipt and full-service Instacart shoppers make $15 to $20 per hour. However, in-store Instacart shoppers make closer to $13/hour, and they’re part-time Instacart employees.
Shipt is a membership-based service, and customers must pay for a membership and non-members will need to pay for a one-time pass.
Because it’s available in more locations nationwide and delivers for more stores, Instacart receives more orders.
Full-service Instacart shoppers and Shipt shoppers are all considered independent contractors. This means you’re responsible for withholding and filing your own taxes. Each company will send you a 1099 form if you’ve made over a certain amount of money.