Instacart Retail

Bad Orders to Big Opportunities: How Retailers Are Improving The Customer Order Experience



Jul 14, 2022

With the rise of e-commerce, consumers now have increasingly high demands for retailers. They’ve grown accustomed to the ease, convenience, and speed of shopping online for what they need and have come to expect the same for their groceries.

Consequently, grocers are looking to improve the customer order experience, and have had to adapt from providing primarily an in-store shopping experience to incorporating e-commerce seamlessly into their business model.

Online grocery penetration is expected to double in just 4 years

Over the past two years, grocery spend has shifted from offline to online at an accelerated pace. In 2019, only 3% of U.S. grocery shopping took place online, and in just two years online grocery tripled to nearly 10% in 2021. Online grocery penetration is expected to double to reach 20.5% by 2026 and could reach up to 35% in the next five years.

Bar chart titled “Digital sales as a percentage of total sales” with two bars, one at 9.5% and another at 20.5%, and a cursor hovering over a green “Check out” button.

The move to online grocery shopping is showing no signs of slowing down. This creates new growth opportunities for retailers that offer delivery and pickup.

With this continued evolution of consumer expectations, retailers must provide customers with a seamless online shopping experience in order to encourage return visits, build customer loyalty, and grow sales.

Eliminating bad orders to improve customer loyalty

One of the most effective methods for improving the customer order experience is by eliminating bad orders.

What is a bad order? We have all experienced a bad order at one time or another. While it may seem like a subjective appraisal on quality, a bad order can be objectively defined and measured. Instacart defines a bad order as one that includes unapproved replacements, low found rate, a sub 5-star rating, and/or is delivered late.

Infographic titled “What makes a bad order?” explaining that sub five-star ratings, orders fifteen minutes late, found rates of less than eighty percent, and unapproved replacements of less than fifteen percent demand improved customer order experiences.

While customers may forgive a bad order based on past positive experiences, retailers shouldn’t take customer goodwill for granted without solving the problem. If a loyal customer experiences one bad order too many, they may switch to a competitor.

Rather than attempt to rectify a bad order to customers with rebates, discounts, and refunds that cut into retailer profit margins, the best way for retailers to solve the problem is to avoid it entirely. Retailers have found that using Instacart Platform technology can help significantly reduce the number of bad orders.

Instacart Platform’s Carrot Connect helps retailers drive customer satisfaction

Developed from a decade of building the leading grocery technology company in North America, Instacart Platform’s Carrot Connect API grocery tech empowers retailers to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and unlock incremental revenue. 

Carrot Connect accelerates the time to bring services online, with a set of advanced, proprietary features, including:

  • Substitutions
  • Upsells
  • Real-Time Shopper < > Customer Chat

As a white-label service, Carrot Connect stays behind the scenes, delivering customer experiences in retail-branded environments and allowing the retailer to reap the full benefit for the customer’s positive online experiences.

One large grocer has minimized bad orders by adopting Carrot Connect. Carrot Connect drove high performance for this grocer on a number of key metrics, including:

  • More than 75% of orders had a perfect 100% fill rate (no refunds) due to effective replacements, with an average rating of these orders of 4.9 out of 5.
  • Shoppers actively communicated with customers in ~35% of orders using Instacart Carrot Connect’s Shopper < > Customer Chat feature.
  • Instacart Carrot Connect’s platform achieved a 95% fill rate and a found rate of more than 90%.
Two hands making a heart with their fingers and a heart-shaped carrot inside, with a title stating one large grocer saw higher average order ratings of 4.8 since adopting Carrot Connect.

“Quality is very simple, but delivering quality consistently isn’t always easy. We have to know: What items are in the store? What are acceptable replacements? How do we change our routing systems to account for ice cream in the summer heat? Instacart invests in machine learning predictions, real-time monitoring, and constant iteration to provide best-in-class quality on all these dimensions.”

David Schloss, Director of Product at Instacart
Illustrated text conversation with one person stating they can’t find roma tomatoes and offering to substitute for a different tomato using an image. The other person says “Perfect! Thanks.”

Thanks to Carrot Connect, this large grocer was able to achieve a 47% lift in sales on Instacart over a fifteen-month period. Non-grocers have seen benefits too, as one retailer achieved 25% lift in sales on Instacart over a fifteen month period.

Infographic titled “Connect delivers results for large retailers” states that large grocers saw a forty-seven percent sales increase and a twenty-five percent sales increase for non-grocers after using Instacart Carrot Connect, improving customer order experience.

Instacart Carrot Connect is our most flexible, easy-to-integrate solution. With a quick deployment and launch time that complements your existing environment and allows retailers to quickly and efficiently meet consumers’ changing demands and improve the customer order experience.

Want to learn more about Instacart’s flexible fulfillment technologies? Contact us.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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