New features allow Instacart customers to choose the first available delivery or schedule their delivery two weeks in advance.
Instacart has made a number of changes to its shopper protocols during the COVID-19 outbreak, but its two newest updates aim to smooth the customer experience. Instacart's latest features are "Fast & Flexible" and "Order Ahead," which the company said it's been testing over the past few weeks.
Choosing the Fast & Flexible option means that customers allow delivery by the first available shopper, rather than scheduling it for a specific delivery window. It more efficiently uses real-time shopper availability to deliver faster and to more people.
When a customer chooses the Fast & Flexible option, they will see an estimated delivery range (e.g., Tuesday through Thursday) and will be notified when their order is picked up by a shopper and scheduled for delivery.
Instacart said that, according to tests, Fast & Flexible has increased available delivery windows by 50% and also increased delivery speed, with 85% of all Fast & Flexible orders arriving within the earlier portion of the estimated delivery range. This feature is available for all orders except those containing alcohol purchases, due to regulations in some states that limit the times during which alcohol can be purchased.
The Order Ahead option allows customers to place orders up to two weeks in advance — seven days longer than the old functionality. This feature is available in a number of markets now and will roll out across all of North America in the coming weeks.
"We're proud to be serving as a lifeline for families across North America during this critical time," said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Instacart. "The customer demand we expected over the next two to four years has happened on the Instacart platform in the last two to four weeks. To address this immediate surge, our teams have moved quickly and reprioritized our entire consumer and shopper product experience to better serve our community in the wake of COVID-19."
Instacart has grown from 200,000 shoppers to more than 350,000 active shoppers in the past two weeks, and continues to hire. Last week, the company saw overall customer order volume up by more than 300% year-over-year. Average customer basket size on Instacart is also up by more than 25% month-over-month.
Additional product features in response to the coronavirus are: