No time for the grocery store? Instacart will shop for you

Providence, R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When an Instacart order comes in, Brionna Grubbs grabs a cart and starts shopping.

“As a shopper, you go to the store that the customer selected,” Grubbs explained during a recent shopping trip to Whole Foods in Providence. “You’ll have an app right in front of you that has the entire shopping list.”

For this particular order, the customer’s shopping list included a bouquet of flowers, bananas, and avocados. Up and down the store aisles, Grubbs carefully selected and double checked each item in her phone’s app.

“We replace items if we need to,” Grubbs said. “If something happens to be out of stock, we find the best possible replacement that we can, and we communicate in real time with the customer as we make those changes. Then we check out and deliver the order.”

Instacart’s expansion into parts of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts is part of the growing grocery delivery industry that already includes local delivery options, Amazon Fresh, and meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.

“Over the past year we’ve seen incredible demand in the Providence metropolitan area,” David Schloss, Instacart’s general manager, said in a statement.

According to a recent study by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, 23% of American households buy food online. The study predicts by 2025, online grocery spending will reach $100 billion annually.

For the newly expanded Instacart, customers can order from Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, PriceRite, CVS, and Petco.

Deliveries are available in as little as an hour, for a fee of $5.99. Customers can also choose an unlimited yearly membership for $149.

Instacart said it plans to hire 150 new shoppers in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts to meet demand.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.