Do Instacart Shoppers Double as Drivers?

Instacart has revolutionized the grocery shopping experience, but many still wonder: Do Instacart Shoppers double as drivers? We will delve into this famous gig and clarify the roles and responsibilities of Instacart Shoppers.

Are Instacart Shoppers Also the Drivers?

In a majority of instances, Instacart Shoppers perform double duty as drivers. These multi-tasking individuals are known as Full-Service Shoppers because they handle shopping and delivery tasks for customer orders. Nevertheless, Instacart also hires In-Store Shoppers, who exclusively focus on shopping and don’t take on delivery responsibilities. Typically, In-Store Shoppers cater to pick-up orders, and their role doesn’t involve transporting items to customers’ residences.

Instacart Shopper Roles Explained

Instacart offers a convenient grocery delivery service, connecting customers with Shoppers who fulfill their orders. These Shoppers fall into two categories: Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers. Each role has its distinct responsibilities and requirements. In this section, we’ll dive into the specifics of each part to help you better understand the differences between them.

Full-Service Shopper

A Full-Service Shopper is an independent contractor who picks, packs and delivers groceries to customers’ doorsteps. They handle every aspect of an order, from selecting items at the store to ensuring timely and accurate delivery. Full-Service Shoppers must have access to a vehicle and be able to work flexible hours, accommodating customer needs and personal availability. Some key responsibilities of a Full-Service Shopper include the following:

  • Choosing and purchasing items for customers’ orders
  • Packing orders securely to prevent damage during transportation
  • Delivering orders to customers promptly and professionally
  • Maintaining a high level of customer service throughout the shopping process

In-Store Shopper

On the other hand, In-Store Shoppers are part-time Instacart employees who focus solely on shopping. They are responsible for picking and packing groceries at one store location, typically catering to pick-up orders. Unlike Full-Service Shoppers, In-Store Shoppers do not need a vehicle as they do not handle deliveries. These Shoppers usually work scheduled shifts, up to 29 hours per week, and may be eligible for reasonable accommodations if they have a medical condition or disability. Key responsibilities of an In-Store Shopper include:

  • Selecting items from store shelves according to customers’ orders
  • Packing groceries securely in bags or boxes to prepare for pick-up or handoff to delivery drivers
  • Ensuring order accuracy and fulfilling any special customer requests
  • Collaborating with store staff and other Instacart team members to ensure a smooth shopping experience

How Instacart Works for Shoppers and Drivers

Instacart provides a convenient way for customers to shop for groceries without leaving their homes. However, as a shopper or driver, it’s essential to understand the process involved in fulfilling customer orders. In this section, we’ll explore three critical aspects of the Instacart experience for shoppers and drivers: the Shopping Process, the Delivery Process, and Payment and Earnings.

Shopping Process

Customers who order on Instacart select a grocery store and specify their desired items. After submitting the order, it becomes available for Instacart Shoppers to accept. Once a shopper agrees with the order, they head to the chosen store and begin picking items from the shelves based on the customer’s list. They also ensure that the things are in good condition and adhere to specific requests, such as selecting ripe produce or avoiding certain allergens.

Delivery Process

For Full-Service Shoppers, the delivery process starts after they have successfully picked up and packed the customer’s order. They then load the groceries into their vehicle and use the Instacart app to navigate to the customer’s address. Upon arrival, the Shopper follows the delivery instructions provided by the customer, which may include leaving the order at the doorstep or handing it off directly to the customer. Timeliness and communication are crucial to ensure a positive experience for the Shopper and the customer.

Payment and Earnings

Instacart Shoppers and Drivers are paid per order, with earnings determined by various factors such as the number of items, the distance traveled, and the time spent shopping and delivering. In addition to the base pay, Full-Service Shoppers can receive customer tips, significantly increasing their earnings. In addition, Instacart pays shoppers and drivers weekly via direct deposit, making it easy for them to manage their finances.

Shoppers and drivers can work as much or as little as they want, depending on their availability and the number of orders in their area. This flexibility allows them to tailor their work schedules to fit their needs and preferences. Some shoppers and drivers also use the Instant Cashout feature, which enables them to access their earnings before the weekly payout, providing additional financial flexibility.

Pros and Cons of Being an Instacart Shopper and Driver

Deciding to become an Instacart shopper and driver comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some pros and cons of working as an Instacart shopper and driver. 

Advantages of Being an Instacart Shopper and Driver

  1. Flexible schedule: One of the main benefits of working for Instacart is the ability to set your schedule. You can work as little or as much as you want, depending on your availability and personal preferences.
  2. High hourly pay on average: Instacart shoppers and drivers typically enjoy competitive hourly pay rates, often higher than minimum wage. The potential for large batches and tips can further increase earnings.
  3. Wide market availability: Instacart operates in numerous cities across the United States and Canada, making it accessible to many potential shoppers and drivers.
  4. Limited driving compared to other gig jobs: Unlike other delivery services such as DoorDash, Instacart shoppers and drivers often spend less time driving, focusing primarily on shopping and delivering groceries within a specific area.
  5. Opportunity to earn perks: Instacart offers a Cart Star program that rewards shoppers and drivers with extra gas discounts and access to higher-paying batches.

Disadvantages of Being an Instacart Shopper and Driver

  1. No health insurance benefits for part-time workers: Instacart does not provide health insurance benefits to part-time shoppers and drivers who work less than 29 hours per week.
  2. Lack of control over job assignments: Shoppers and drivers may need more control over the stores they are assigned to and the orders they receive. This lack of control might be unsuitable for individuals who prefer to have more say in their work environment.
  3. Inconsistent earnings: While the average hourly pay can be high, salaries can vary greatly depending on the number of orders, batch sizes, and customer tips. This inconsistency can make budgeting and financial planning challenging.
  4. Wear and tear on personal vehicle: As an Instacart driver, you’ll use your vehicle to make deliveries. It can lead to increased maintenance costs, depreciation, and potential damage to your car.
  5. Potential for stressful situations: Shopping and delivering groceries on a tight schedule can be stressful, especially during peak hours or crowded stores. Additionally, dealing with unhappy customers or navigating difficult delivery situations can be challenging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Instacart tips go to the driver or the Shopper?

Instacart tips are given directly to the shopper handling and delivering your order. In cases where two shoppers fulfill your order, it will be divided equally between them, so each person gets 50%. It is important to note that it is optional but highly appreciated by shoppers as recognition for their excellent service.

How much should I tip my Instacart delivery driver?

When tipping your Instacart delivery driver, the platform suggests a minimum of 5% based on the total order price. However, consider this the bare minimum, and feel free to tip more for exceptional service. For example, a $5 tip for orders with 1-9 items and $8-$10 for orders with 10-20 items can be a good starting point. Remember tipping is optional but serves as an acknowledgment of the driver’s hard work and dedication.

Can a customer request a specific Instacart Shopper or driver?

Customers cannot request a specific Instacart Shopper or driver for their orders. The Shopper or driver assigned to the order is determined by whoever accepts it. Although customers might try to align their orders with a preferred driver’s schedule, there is no guarantee that the desired driver will take the order.

Do Instacart drivers rate customers?

Instacart does not provide an official rating system for its Shoppers to rate customers. However, Shoppers can choose which orders and customers to accept or decline based on factors such as tip amount or past experiences.

Can someone ride with me while doing Instacart?

It is against Instacart’s rules for someone to ride with you while performing your duties as an Instacart Shopper. Instacart has only background-checked and trained the contracted Shopper, and allowing another person to accompany you would violate their guidelines.

Tips for Maximizing Earnings as an Instacart Shopper and Driver

Maximizing earnings as an Instacart Shopper and Driver requires a combination of practical strategies, customer communication, and efficient scheduling. You can enhance your earnings by mastering these areas while providing exceptional customer service.

Efficient Shopping Strategies

It is essential to adopt efficient shopping techniques. Start by familiarizing yourself with store layouts, which can help you quickly locate items and minimize time spent on each order. Additionally, prioritize larger, high-paying batches when they become available and avoid accepting orders that require long-distance driving, as this can consume time and fuel. Finally, be mindful of your shopping speed and checkout process, as completing orders can lead to more available batches and increased income.

Communication with Customers

Effective customer communication is crucial in providing excellent service and increasing tips. Keep customers informed about any changes or issues with their orders, and consider sending a friendly introduction message when starting a new batch. Going above and beyond to fulfill customers’ needs, such as carefully selecting produce or locating specific brands, can lead to higher ratings and more extensive tips.

Schedule Optimization

Optimizing your schedule can significantly impact your earnings as an Instacart Shopper and Driver. You can work during peak hours and days when demand is highest, such as weekends or evenings, to increase the likelihood of receiving profitable batches. Monitor local events and weather conditions, as these, can affect customer demand and provide opportunities for increased earnings. Additionally, utilize the flexibility of Instacart’s scheduling system to adjust your working hours based on your personal needs and preferences. Balancing your work-life balance can help prevent burnout and maintain your motivation to excel as an Instacart Shopper and Driver.

Always strive for continuous improvement and adapt your strategies to stay competitive and provide the best possible service to your customers.

Comparing Instacart to Other Gig Economy Platforms

The gig economy has grown exponentially, providing ample opportunities for workers seeking flexible employment options. As a result, Instacart has established itself as a popular choice among the various platforms available for those interested in grocery shopping and delivery. We will compare Instacart to other gig economy platforms, explicitly focusing on Shipt and Peapod, to help you decide which platform suits your needs best.

Working for Instacart vs. Shipt

Instacart and Shipt are two prominent grocery delivery platforms that allow workers to shop for and deliver groceries to customers. Both platforms offer flexible schedules and the opportunity to earn money by shopping and delivering orders.

Instacart offers a more extensive network of stores, potentially leading to more job opportunities. In addition, Instacart tends to have a more expansive customer base, which might result in more frequent and higher-paying orders. Instacart shoppers also have the option to work as full-service shoppers, who both shop and deliver, or in-store shoppers, who only shop for orders within the store.

On the other hand, Shipt focuses on a more personalized shopping experience, and shoppers often communicate directly with customers throughout the shopping process. Shipt also provides a more straightforward pay structure based on the order total and encourages customers to tip generously. In addition, shoppers of Shipt may find that the company’s focus on customer service leads to a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Working for Instacart vs. Peapod

Peapod, owned by Ahold Delhaize, is another grocery delivery platform offering a different approach than Instacart and Shipt. Unlike Instacart and Shipt, which rely on gig workers to shop and deliver orders, Peapod has warehouses and a dedicated team of employees who pick, pack, and give orders. As a result, it can lead to more stable employment opportunities with the potential for benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off.

Working for Peapod means that you will likely have set schedules and shifts, which may be less flexible than what Instacart and Shipt offer. However, the structured environment can provide more stability and predictability regarding income and work hours. Additionally, Peapod drivers often work with the same team members, which can lead to a stronger sense of camaraderie and support compared to gig-based platforms.

Instacart offers more flexibility and the opportunity to work as an independent contractor, which might appeal to those looking for a side hustle or a way to supplement their income. Shipt provides a similar experience with a stronger focus on customer service and a potentially more straightforward pay structure. Lastly, Peapod offers a more traditional employment structure with set schedules and potential benefits, which may be more suitable for individuals seeking stability and a long-term position in the grocery delivery industry.


Instacart shoppers can double as drivers, but it requires dedication, commitment, and a willingness to work hard. Nevertheless, it enables them to earn money through both roles. The flexible working schedule allows individuals to work whenever they are available, making it an excellent option for those looking for a side hustle or a full-time job. Instacart shoppers who double as drivers must have excellent communication skills, be efficient, and optimize their schedules to maximize their earnings.


Hello! I'm Amma, a B.Ed. graduate from the University with a specialization in Geography Education. Despite the fact that it's a different field, I have a passion for exploring social phenomena that I studied in the subfields of Human Geography, such as Social Geography and Economic Geography. I possess a deep understanding of goods production, consumption, and distribution in relation to the environment in which they exist. I am here to provide answers to any questions you may have regarding products, grocery, services, and delivery on my website.

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