Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Instacart grocery delivery launches in Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM

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Instacart, the on demand grocery delivery service, launched in Atlanta today, making it the San Francisco-based startup's 12th city since expanding to Chicago last October. From 9 a.m.-11 p.m., almost anyone who lives ITP and north of I-20 (here's a map of Instacart's initial coverage area) can order groceries from Kroger and Costoco online - no membership required - and have them delivered within an hour.

Here's how it works. You go online, create an account, and fill your cart as you would on any e-commerce site. The service focuses on grocery and personal care items (no booze due to state regulations says Instacart City Launcher Matt O'Connor and no flat-screen TVs or trampolines from Costco, either). As of Wednesday's launch, "the Instacart platform has more than 20,000 Kroger items in its catalog and a few thousand from Costco," O'Connor says. "Basically we try to replicate what's in the store on our platform."

At checkout, you have the option to choose when your order is delivered: within one hour, within a two-hour window, or within a one-hour window later in the day. If you spend at least $35, the delivery fee is $3.99 if you want it within two hours, and $5.99 of you want it within one. If the order total is less than $35, it'll cost $7.99 and $9.99, respectively.

And they really want you to give it a try. Instacart will wave the delivery fee on your first order. And they're offering a nifty promo for CL readers. Click here and Instacart will credit your account with $10 in free groceries. Also, if you place an order on launch day you'll be eligible for one free month of Instacart Express, a membership situation where you pay $99 in exchange for free delivery on all orders over $35 for one year.

Sound familiar? It's the Instacart version of Amazon Prime, which makes sense because the company was founded in July 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, a former Amazon logistics and fulfillment engineer.

Instacart is powered by a fleet of personal shoppers who stand by and wait for people to place orders. If the store is out of an item, you can either designate a specific replacement or give the shopper permission to replace it for you.

And what about local food partners like farmers markets? O'Connor says working with local businesses is part of the company's goal.

"I can't reveal any names at the moment, but hopefully we have one coming online pretty soon that seems to be a really strong local favorite ... The one I have in mind is a local farmers market. We don't work with manufacturers directly, but any local market, farmers market, grocery store ... Usually we launch with the larger stores that most people are accustomed to, and then add more local players afterward. But we're definitely making [local partnerships] a priority everywhere we go."

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